21 dead, 3 missing in Cebu after Typhoon Odette

·8 min read

AT LEAST 21 people were reported killed in Cebu following the onslaught of Typhoon Odette (Rai) on Thursday evening, Dec. 16, 2021.

Eight persons were reported dead in Cebu City, while seven persons, including three-year-old twins, were reported killed in Mandaue City after getting trapped inside their houses when the firewall of an establishment collapsed amid the strong winds brought by Odette.

Six persons were reported killed in Lapu-Lapu City, including a Korean national.

Odette packed maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour near the center with gusts of up to 240 kilometers per hours when it slammed into Cebu at 10 p.m. Thursday.

Due to the severity of the damage caused by Typhoon Odette, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia declared a state of calamity in the entire Cebu Province.

Garcia issued Executive Order 48 on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.

Based on the initial assessment of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), Typhoon Odette severely damaged homes, buildings and other infrastructure while causing a province-wide blackout, water shortage, and communications and internet loss.

Garcia mandated all department heads and administrative staff of the Provincial Government to report to work at 8 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18.

Cebu City

Councilor Dave Tumulak, chairman of the council's Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, first informed Superbalita Cebu that six persons had lost their lives in different barangays in the city.

Two more persons were added to the tally after further investigation conducted by the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office headed by Ramil Ayuman, lawyer Gerry Carillo of the CCDRRMC, and incident commander retired Bureau of Fire Protection general Aderson Comar but the name of one of them was still being confirmed.

The dead were identified as Felipe Medrano of San Nicolas Proper; Norma de la Cerna, 60, of Barangay San Roque; Derrick Dave Flordeliz, 23, and Renato Flordeliz, 55, of Hillsview of Barangay Tisa who were hit by trusses; John Clifford Yaun, 19, of Lower Villa Zacate of Basak Pardo who was hit by a tree; engineer Daniel Dongcoy of Barangay Kamputhaw who was hit by a telecommunications tower; Redan Pecori, 12, of Sitio Caimbol, Barangay Tisa, who was also hit by a tree; and another male from Barangay Buhisan who had also been hit by a tree.

Mayor Michael Rama issued a directive Friday to place the entire city under a state of calamity and emergency, which includes a mandatory stay-at-home order for the rapid recovery of Cebu City.

Among those excluded from the stay-at-home order are medical staff and personnel and other frontliners in this time of disaster, law enforcement personnel, media personalities, government officials, delivery drivers of all cargo, farmers, fishermen, people who buy food and building materials, and public utility personnel.

Rama met with Visayan Electric Company officials Friday, Dec. 17, to expedite the restoration of power throughout Cebu City, which is suffering from a power outage. (See related story.)

The mayor could not yet give an estimate on the damage sustained by the properties of City Hall, agricultural products and other real property from the storm’s fury.

Rama, who is still awaiting a report from the City Agriculture Department, said he may take a tour of the mountains by helicopter on Friday to assess the damage caused by the storm.

Mandaue City

In Mandaue City, City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) head Buddy Alain Ybañez told SunStar Cebu that they recorded seven casualties in Barangay Maguikay due to the typhoon.

The family of the victims identified them as Jose Winnie Enoc, 62; Arnold Enoc, 24; and Aira Mae, 16, who were living in the same household.

The other victims, living just around three houses away from the first three victims, were identified as Emelita Bantigue, 43; Leah Clarus, 36; and three-year-old twins Eloiza Dionne and Elaiza Dianne Clarus.

CDRRMO head for operations Felix Suico Jr. said all the victims were found lifeless and retrieved at the second floor of their respective houses.

Suico said they were able to retrieve the bodies of the twins together with their mother, Leah, around 12 midnight on Thursday when the barangay called for help around 9 or 10 p.m.

Fortunately, three other family members, including the father of the twins who sustained injuries, were rescued right away.

But Suico said they halted their search and rescue or retrieval operations for other victims due to the strong winds and resumed these the following day or early Friday morning.

Jun Bantigue, 55, cousin-in-law of Jose Winnie and a relative of the other victims, said they heard the firewall collapse around 7 p.m. when the gusty winds brought about by Odette were already felt.

But Bantigue said they could not just go out right away due to the winds and that it took him almost an hour to check on his relatives.

“I ran there. When I saw that Winnie was dead, I called out to Arnold and Airah. There was no response. There was none. So I figured they were dead to. I ran over to my uncle’s, and that’s where I rescued my uncle,” he said in Cebuano.

SunStar Cebu reached out to the management of Nutri Asia, but it declined to give a statement as of this writing.

In a separate interview, Barangay Maguikay Captain Edward Gumera told SunStar Cebu that he called for an emergency meeting with the barangay council to use their calamity fund to at least aid the affected families.

Gumera noted that apart from the victims' houses, around six others were damaged by the collapsed firewall, which was why they initially provided them with food packs consisting of rice and canned goods.

As of Friday afternoon, Dec. 17, the village chief admitted that he was still trying to contact the management of Nutri Asia to ask them how they will assist the families affected by the incident.

"Actually, I haven’t been able to contact them on how they will deal with the incident caused by the collapse of their firewall. I still have to try some more to reach them because the telephone signal here is still intermittent," he said, stressing that the management itself did not contact the barangay to discuss their plans.

"I just want to request them to give assistance to the affected residents because their situation is pitiful," he added.

Gumera said they had conducted rekurida in different areas in the barangay, including that of the victims' since Thursday afternoon, informing them of the need to evacuate as the city had been placed under Signal No. 4.

“Our personnel went back for evacuees when the winds picked up. Maybe they chose not to evacuate, thinking they were safe there because the wind would be blocked by the firewall. The problem was that the firewall itself gave way,” the village chief added.

For the meantime, Gumera urged the survivors of the incident or the affected families to evacuate and temporarily stay at the Maguikay Elementary School starting Friday afternoon.

As for the clearing operations, Ybañez said they will prioritize the road clearing as trees and other structures were not spared by the typhoon.

They will do this with the help of the Department of General Services and other local offices as directed by Mayor Jonas Cortes during their meeting on Friday afternoon.

He said around 10,000 families were evacuated from the coastal or low-lying areas on Thursday as per the latest report of City Social Welfare and Services head Dr. Maricel Yu.

During their meeting, Cortes reportedly assured that all the evacuees in the 27 barangays would be provided with enough supply of food and water.

Ybañez added that evacuees could stay at the designated evacuation centers until they could rebuild and go back to their respective homes or stay with their relatives.

Lapu-Lapu City

In Lapu-Lapu City, disaster risk reduction and management officer Nagiel Bañacia said six casualties were reported at the Lapu-Lapu City Emergency Operations Center as of 12:15 p.m. Friday, Dec 17.

Four died in Barangay Basak, while two died on Olango Island, including one Korean national.

In a Facebook post, Mayor Junard Chan called on the City Council to conduct a special session at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18, to declare the city under a state of calamity.

Earlier in the day, he called for volunteers to help in clearing the roads of debris from the storm.

Talisay City

In Talisay City, Officials of the Talisay City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (TCDRRMO) reported that they were still conducting search and rescue operations for three fishermen who reportedly went missing in Barangay Tanke when Typhoon Odette made landfall on Thursday night.

TCDRRMO officials told SunStar Cebu that there were initially five fishermen docking their boats in Barangay Tanke when they were suddenly swept away by strong waves brought by

the typhoon.

Of the five fishermen, one reportedly was able to get himself out of trouble.

On Friday morning, TCDRRMO received reports that one of the missing fishermen had been rescued in Barangay Pooc.

But there was still no sign of the three fishermen with him.

The TCDRRMO has yet to disclose the names of the fishermen as they were still collating data from their responders in the field.

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