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4 fatalities reported in Iloilo, Northern Samar; Motorboat with 3 aboard disappears

Philippine Daily Inquirer December 07,2014 - 10:30 PM

NDRMMC: No confirmed deaths

Typhoon Ruby (international name: Hagupit) knocked out power in entire coastal provinces, mowed down trees and sent more than 650,000 people into shelters before it weakened yesterday.
Shallow floods, damaged shanties and ripped off store signs and tin roofs were a common sight across the region, but there were no confirmed deaths or major destruction after Ruby slammed into Eastern Samar and other island provinces.

Authorities were verifying reports of some deaths but none has been confirmed so far, Undersecretary Alexander Pama, chief of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the Office of Civil Defense, said.

The Iloilo DRRM Office however, reported that three people including a one-year-old girl were killed in storm-related circumstances as Ruby neared Western Visayas.  Ernesto Baylon, 65, was found dead about 8 a.m. Sunday at his house in barangay Bayas in Estancia town in Iloilo, said PDRMMO executive officer Jerry Bionat.

Bionat said Baylon was believed to have died of hypothermia and so did one-year-old Thea Rojo in barangay Balanti-an in Balasan town.

The third fatality was identified as Jenelyn Castor, 35, who died Saturday evening due to eclampsia, a complication in pregnancy. Castor had sought shelter in the house of a relative in barangay Agbobolo in Ajuy town, Iloilo due to the approaching typhoon.

In Northern Samar, an elderly woman drowned in Catarman town where at least 1,000 houses were damaged by storm surges, local authorities said.

Jonathan Baldo, the municipal disaster officer, identified the victim as Luz Cuanico, 75, of barangay Banquerohan Catarman town.

A motorboat with three people on board disappeared in the waters off Iloilo, Sunday morning. Sonny Ciriaco, village councilman of the island-barangay of Malangabang in Concepcion town in Iloilo, said they saw the three passengers waving for help as the boat was being dragged by strong current and huge waves.

“They were about 150 meters from the coastline but we could not help them because of the rough seas,” Ciriaco told the Inquirer.  He said the boat and the passengers later disappeared.

Lt. Cmdr. Dominador Senador III, Coast Guard Iloilo station commander, said they would launch search and rescue operations upon the calming of the sea.

A storm surge destroyed eight houses left empty by residents in Sorsogon Sunday morning, the Philippine Army said.

Maj. Angelo Guzman, spokesman of the AFP Southern Luzon Command, said that a storm surge estimated to be three to five meters high wrecked eight houses in the coastal villages of Mabuhay and Dapdap in Bulusan, Sorsogon, at around 9 a.m. Sunday.  He said the houses were empty after disaster response teams evacuated the residents on Saturday.

In Catanduanes, Lt. Gilbert Dumugho, operations officer of the Army’s 83rd Infantry Battalion, said coastal towns, particularly those facing the Pacific Ocean, have been experiencing huge waves and strong winds since Saturday night until Sunday morning.

Dam collapse

The provincial disaster coordinator of Marinduque expressed fears that the abandoned mine dams of the former Marcopper Mining Corp. might collapse.

“We’re closely monitoring the condition of Tapian pit, Makulapnit and Maguila-guila dams,” Eleuterio Raza, acting PDRRM officer, said yesterday.

He said the people were afraid that strong rains from Ruby could trigger the abandoned dams to collapse as it could no longer hold more water. “The weather forecast predicts strong rains along Ruby’s path. Marinduque will be surely hit,” Raza said.

He recalled that a strong typhoon in 1993 caused heavy flooding in the towns of Boac and Mogpog. Makulapnit and Maguila-guila are among the dams of Marcopper identified to be in “imminent danger of collapsing” by the United States Geological Services as early as 1996 or after the spill occurred. The inactive dams were abandoned when Marcopper stopped its operation after the 1996 spill.

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TAGS: Catarman, Hagupit, Iloilo, NDRRMC, Northern Samar, Ruby, Sorsogon, Storm, typhoon

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