Photo contributed by Efren Iquiran Garabiles shows a highway in Pinabacdao, Samar which collapsed due to heavy rains brought by Storm Urduja.

3 dead as Urduja pummels Visayas
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - December 16, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — Three persons died and thousands of families were driven from their homes by floods and landslides as Tropical Storm Urduja (international name Kai-Tak) pummeled Eastern Visayas and the Caraga region in Mindanao yesterday.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported that six other persons were reported missing at the height of the storm.

A fisherman and a boy reportedly died in floods in Leyte, while one person was killed in a landslide in Biliran.

However, the dead and missing were still being validated by authorities, NDRRMC executive director and Office of Civil Defense (OCD) administrator Ricardo Jalad said.

He said Urduja also affected 35,021 families or 158,166 individuals from 322 barangays in Eastern Visayas and Caraga.

The NDRRMC reported that at least 92 barangays in Carigara town in Leyte and Jipapad, Sulat, Taft, Arteche, General MacArthur towns in Eastern Samar and Maydolong in Capiz, Panay Island were flooded.

The provincial government of Eastern Samar, where 25,000 families were displaced by flooding and landslides, recommended that the province be placed under a state of calamity.

Leyte, where 15,000 families were evacuated, has been placed under a state of calamity due to widespread flooding.

In Northern and Eastern Samar, 1,063 families from the towns of Catarman, Laoang, Lope de Vega, Mapanas, Mondragon, Catubig, San Roque, Selvino Lubos, Victoria and Oras had been evacuated even before Urduja made landfall.

Power interruption

Several areas in Eastern Visayas were without electricity because of toppled electrical posts and snapped power lines.

Jalad said Urduja’s strong winds and heavy rains also caused power interruptions in Cabadbaran City, Jabonga, Carmen, Kitcharao and Buenavista towns in Agusan del Norte.

A total of 123 families mostly from Dinagat Island province, also in Caraga, were displaced by Urduja.

Closed to traffic

Four road sections in the Bicol region and Eastern Visayas were damaged by flashfloods and landslides.

Closed to traffic was the Bulan municipal road in Sorsogon after flood damaged the Taramota spillway.

The section of Wright-Borongan Road and Daang Maharlika in Eastern Samar remained flooded and closed to traffic yesterday.

A landslide along the Samar-Leyte Road, specifically at Sitio Tagbak, Barangay Tabugon, Liloan in Southern Leyte, made it impassable.

As this developed, three sections of the Maharlika Highway in Samar were closed to traffic due to flooding and landslides, Samar Gov. Sharee Ann Tan said.

The NDRRMC reported 11,101 passengers were stranded while 52 vessels and 33 motorized boats were held at ports in Northern Samar, Biliran, Western Leyte, San Jose de Bunenavista in Antique, Iloilo, Caticlan in Aklan, Bacolod in Western Visayas and in Albay, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Masbate in Bicol, Batangas, Mindoro, Romblon, Quezon and Manila.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) suspended sea travel in the Visayas and Bicol due to bad weather.

Class suspensions

Urduja also caused suspension of classes either at all levels or in pre-school and elementary in Albay, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, Sorsogon and Camarines Norte, Biliran, Northern Samar, Leyte, Samar, Southern Leyte, Dinagat Island, Surigao Norte and Agusan del Norte.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said some 8,800 families or about 38,000 people have evacuated to 141 evacuation centers in the Visayas.

Church officials in storm-affected areas said there were still many Catholics who attended the first Simbang Gabi or dawn mass.

Storm weakens

Urduja slightly weakened as it moved toward the northern part of Samar, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said yesterday.

At 4 p.m. yesterday, Urduja was in the vicinity of San Jose de Buan, Samar, with maximum sustained winds of 75 kilometers per hour and gustiness of up to 120 kph. It was forecast to move west at 15 kph.

Signal No. 2 was raised over Sorsogon and Masbate, including Ticao Islands, and Romblon in Luzon, Northern Samar, northern part of Eastern Samar, northern part of Samar, Biliran, Antique, Aklan, Capiz and northern Iloilo in the Visayas.

Signal No. 1 was hoisted over Southern Quezon, Marinduque, southern part of Occidental Mindoro, southern part of Oriental Mindoro, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Albay, Burias Island, Northern Palawan and Cuyo Island in Luzon, and the rest of Iloilo, Samar, Eastern Samar, Guimaras, Negros Occidental, northern part of Negros Oriental, northern Cebu and Leyte in the Visayas. – With Rhodina Villanueva, Janvic Mateo, Celso Amo, Lalaine Jimenea, Evelyn Macairan

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