‘Labuyo’ death toll at 4; damage placed at P438 M

Typhoon "Labuyo" (international name: Utor) left at least four people dead, six injured, around 20 still missing, and 130,000 displaced in 14 provinces of Luzon, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said yesterday.

Damage to agriculture was placed at P438.27 million.

"Labuyo," the strongest tropical cyclone to hit the country so far this year, is now heading towards the southern part of China, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

PAGASA OIC Administrator Vicente Malano said as "Labuyo" exits, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mt. Province, Zambales, Bataan, Mindoro provinces, Marinduque and Romblon will experience rains enhancing the southwest monsoon.

"Labuyo" is the 12th of the expected 20 typhoons this year. At least one more cyclone is likely to affect the country this August which will be given a local name "Maring," said Malano.

Damages Detailed

Based on the initial reports submitted by Department of Agriculture offices in Regions II, III and the Cordillera Administrative Region, "Labuyo" affected more than 50,000 hectares of agricultural lands planted to corn, palay, banana and other vegetables.

Among the crops, corn was the most affected, incurring P320,914,145 out of the total damage.

This was followed by rice, with P93,930,961; banana with P18,016,720; and other vegetables placed at P5,412,914 in damages.

Region II bore the brunt of the damages - both in total value and area -- losing P387,617,090 worth of agricultural products in 35,615 hectares mostly in the provinces of Isabela and Quirino.

Overall the region lost P315,614,240 worth of corn; P52,785,700 in rice; P18,016,720 in bananas; and P1,200,430 worth of other vegetables.

Meanwhile, Region III lost P39,436,681 worth of rice in 4,995 hectares mostly in the provinces of Nueva Ecija and Zambales. No other crops were reportedly destroyed in the region.

On the other hand, CAR losses stood at P5,299,905 in corn; P4,212,510 in vegetables; and P1,708,580 in rice.

Hardest Hit

The NDRRMC said the hardest-hit towns in the province of Aurora remain isolated due to landslides and flooding.

Large rocks and fallen trees were scattered all over the towns of Ginalungan, Casiguran and Kilasag, NDRRMC Spokesman Rey Balido said.

Balido said reports reaching the main office revealed that communication was slow and difficult. He said many places remained impassable that not even a motorcycle can pass through.

The NDRRMC assessed the damage from an aerial survey of Aurora and other affected areas to determine which needed immediate assistance.

Official reports said 245 houses were totally destroyed while 1,834 were partially damaged.

The NDRRMC identified the latest fatality as Reynaldo dela Cruz of Nueva Ecija. The first to be identified Monday was Joemar Salicon of Benguet. Two others remained unidentified.

Still, 11, mostly fishermen, remain missing from the provinces of Camarines Norte, Pangasinan, Isabela, and Batanes. Last Monday, the number of missing was more than 30.

Rains Welcomed

In Lingayen, Pangasinan, in spite of the reported damage to agriculture, most farmers here considered the rain brought by the typhoon beneficial to their crops.

Farmers here said that for sometime, they had been waiting for rain. "Pasalamat naman kami at hindi naman nagdulot ng malakas na hangin ang bagyo kaya napakinabangan ang ulan." (We are thankful that there is little damage wrought by the typhoon and this is beneficial to us.)

Related developments:

*The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said it is scrambling to clear the roads and highways of obstructions. DPWH Undersecretary Romeo Momo, who is in charge of regional operations in Northern Luzon, said floodwaters submerged many roads while boulders were dislodged from the mountain slopes.

*The town of Masinloc in Zambales was placed under a state of calamity yesterday after it was badly hit by "Labuyo." Masinloc Mayor Desiree Edora made the declaration as almost the entire town is submerged in water with roads and bridges destroyed and thousands of residents displaced.

*Malacañang warned businessmen who would take advantage of those badly affected by typhoon "Labuyo." Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is already on the lookout for those who would raise prices of commodities in areas affected by the typhoon. (With reports from Ellalyn B. De Vera, Madel Sabater - Namit, Raymund F. Antonio, Liezle Basa Inigo, and PNA)