Saturday, September 30, 2006


Typhoon death toll soars

‘Milenyo’ exits; massive relief, cleanup launched

By Marlon Ramos, Christine Avendaño
Last updated 03:10am (Mla time) 09/30/2006

Published on page A1 of the September 30, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

EMERGENCY workers mounted massive relief and cleanup operations as the death toll from Typhoon “Milenyo” (international name: Xangsane) soared yesterday following reports of landslides in Laguna and the collapse of a dam in Cavite.

As the deadliest typhoon to directly hit Metro Manila in over a decade roared out toward Vietnam, disaster officials told President Macapagal-Arroyo that the damage wrought on crops, infrastructure and property was now running into hundreds of millions of pesos and still counting.

Ms Arroyo told the nation that the government would “spare no effort to get the people and communities back to their feet.”

She said that while caring for the victims was the first priority, she had ordered all agencies to monitor the prices of basic commodities and forestall profiteering, quickly restore power in many areas in Luzon and rapidly clear debris and hazards.

The death toll stood at 72 based on reports from local officials gathered by Inquirer reporters in the affected provinces, including those in the Visayas.

Among those killed were five people in Gen. Trias, Cavite, who drowned after they went out to check on the rising water level in Butas Dam—only to end up being swept away after the dam burst and swamped them, Mayor Jonjon Ferrer said.

Thirty others were missing in the incident.

At least 11 people were killed in two landslides caused by the onslaught of the typhoon in two towns in Laguna.

Worst hit was the scenic town of Los Baños, where nine people from an upland village were buried alive under a pile of boulders and mud from Mt. Makiling.

Supt. Steve Ludan, chief of the 406th Laguna police mobile group, said the victims were inside several houses in Barangay Bagong Silang when mountain rocks and mud came cascading at around 10:30 a.m.

The victims included children aged 2 and 7.

Two other people were killed in another landslide caused by heavy rains in Calauan town, also in Laguna.

Slim chance

Eight others were still missing in the two landslide incidents, police said.

“If you can only see what happened here, you’ll realize that it’s just impossible for anyone to survive this incident. But we’re hoping for the best,” Ludan told the Inquirer.

Tallies gathered by Inquirer reporters had 20 people dead in Quezon, 15 in the Bicol region, 13 in Cavite, 11 in Laguna, five in Eastern Visayas, four in Metro Manila, two in Batangas and two in Bulacan.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Malacañang was not yet ready to declare Metro Manila and the other affected areas under a state of calamity until it got a clearer picture of the situation.

At a special Cabinet meeting she called to assess the situation, Ms Arroyo said:

“The welfare of the people comes first and our paramount objective is to save lives and homes, and make sure enough food, medicine and relief supplies are available.”

Tropical depression sighted

Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz, chair of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, said that another tropical depression had been spotted and was about “three or four days away from the Philippines.”

Weather bureau officials said the tropical depression, called Neneng, was about 2,000 km east of the Visayas and expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility on Sunday.

“If it doesn’t change direction, it might also hit landfall somewhere in Luzon,” Cruz said.

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya said his department was prepared to allocate P240 million in calamity funds to help ease the impact of Milenyo.

The typhoon affected 60,820 persons or 12,345 families.

Damage in Metro Manila

Total houses damaged stood at 235. There were also 1,026 houses partially damaged.

Civil defense Executive Director Anthony Golez said that for Region 8, the total damage to infrastructure, crops and fisheries already amounted to P133 million.

In Metro Manila, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Bayani Fernando said that the typhoon had damaged P100 million in landscaping and P30 million in traffic equipment.

Fernando said that it would take a week to clear the roads. In Metro Manila, 12 billboards were felled by the storm, he said.

So far, total damage to infrastructure in affected areas amounted to more than P100 million, according to Public Works and Highways Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane.

No trains running

Agriculture Secretary Domingo Panganiban said that his officials were still validating whether the palay crops could still be recovered in all the regions that had been affected.

“But we have a lot of losses of seaweeds and fish pens which are valued at approximately P125 million,” Panganiban said.

Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza said that the MRT, LRT, PNR trains were still non-operational but “as soon as there is restoration of electricity,” they should resume running.

The Department of Trade and Industry is tightly monitoring all markets in affected regions, according to Trade Secretary Peter Favila.

Mayor Ferrer said their search and rescue teams were looking for the other victims of the dam collapse in Gen. Trias.

“We are expecting the death toll to rise,” Ferrer said.

Dam suddenly broke

He said the victims were residents of Sunnybrooke Subdivision in Barangay San Francisco who had gone to check the water level at Butas Dam.

Ferrer said they were apparently trying to check if it was necessary for them to leave their homes and move to higher ground.

“Witnesses said part of the dam suddenly gave way as the dam was already swollen with water. The victims were then swept away by the water,” he said.

Ferrer said the age-old dam had been used primarily for irrigation and was built during the Spanish colonial period.

Cavite Gov. Erineo “Ayong” Maliksi has put the entire province under a state of calamity.

Maliksi said the typhoon ravaged mostly fruit trees and high-value crops like banana and coffee.

Back to normal

Domestic and international flights returned to normal yesterday but the Ninoy Aquino International Airport was jampacked with passengers.

“It is terrible!” one airport official told the Inquirer while inspecting the Naia 1 terminal.

Flights that arrived yesterday one after the other were nearly double the usual incoming flights that the Naia 1 accommodates on regular days.

A check made by the Inquirer showed that as of 3 p.m., there were some 25 flights mostly coming from Asia and the Middle East scheduled to arrive at the Naia 1 until midnight.

Missing yachtsmen

The typhoon left at least eight people missing after their yachts, including one that was supposed to serve as a floating restaurant, were battered by big waves on Manila Bay.

One of the missing was a crew member of the MY Limahong, which was dragged from the south entrance of the Manila Yacht Club in Manila at the height of Milenyo and sank near the Baclaran breakwater in Parañaque.

Five of its crew members were rescued by passing tankers.

Also reported missing was one crew member of the MY Tristar.

Nikko Dizon and Leila B. Salaverria and Delfin Mallari, Ephraim Aguilar, Joanna Los Baños, Nina Calleja, Inquirer Southern Luzon, and Vicente S. Labro and Joey Gabieta, Inquirer Visayas

Copyright 2006 Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

3rd day of Philippine Open Source Conference will be moved to Tuesday, October 3, 2006 at Palawan Ballroom, EDSA Shangrila Hotel. Registration starts at 8am and conference starts at 9am. There will be no change in schedule of the sessions. Thank you so much and see you next week!

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