'Pablo' death toll now over 200, many more missing

(Updated 5:01 p.m.) - The death toll from Typhoon Pablo (Bopha), the strongest cyclone to hit the country this year, went up to 238

as of Wednesday afternoon as it continued on its path from Mindanao to the Visayas and Palawan.

Ripping roofs, blowing away homes, and toppling trees, Pablo wreaked havoc in southern Philippines with its 210 kph-gusty winds.

In New Bataan, Compostela Valley, 142 people died and 241 others were missing, according to an Agence France-Presse report quoting Lieutenant-Colonel Lyndon Paniza.

In Davao Oriental, 81 people died, while 15 others were killed in other areas, according to Paniza and the Civil Defense Office.

95 fatalities recorded by NDRRMC

As of Wednesday noon, however, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) tallied only 95 fatalities.

Of the number, only 18 have been identified as of 12:45 p.m.

Among the identified fatalities were:

-Elberto Daniel, 23, of Lazi, Siquijor

-Florentino Lagrimas of San Roque, Northern Samar -Jegger Gomonit, 31, of Panaon, Missamis Occidental -John Bonafel, 17, of Baliangao, Misamis Occidental -Rhodora Acosta, 40, of Salay, Misamis Oriental -Ronel Brandares, 6, of Valencia, Bukidnon -Ramonito Bongcasan, 50, of Fortich, Bukidnon -Erlinda Balante, 64, of Manay, Davao Oriental -Aerol Lintuan, 5, of Tarragona, Davao Oriental -Dondot Sumalinab, 15, of Caraga, Davao Oriental -Rosel Anong, 23, of Caraga, Davao Oriental -SSgt Olivares, New Bataan, Compostela Valley -Jemark Acebedo, 15, of Lingi, Surigao del Sur -Fritzel Cortes, 48, of Lingi, Surigao del Sur -Roseta Amoncio, 69, of Bislig City, Surigao del Sur -Elizabeth Zalueta, 36, of Trento, Agusan del Sur -Cecilio Duama, 77, of Trento, Agusan del Sur -Pepito Cabusas, 40, Trento, Agusan del Sur

Most of the bodies recovered so far by search-and-rescue teams were from Southern Mindanao.

Thirty-three unidentified bodies were recovered from New Bataan, seven from Montevista, and eight in Monkayo, all in Compostela Valley; 16 in Cateel, 12 in Boston, and one in Baganga, all in Davao Oriental

The number of injured also rose to 61.

Amid the different number of casualties being reported, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said NDRRMC follows an official and standard process when reporting on the number of casualties in tragedies.

“First, there must be certification from the Department of Health (DOH), i.e., validate that the cause of death is a consequence of the calamity, followed by positive identification of the remains by anyone familiar with the victim,” he said in a press statement.

“Therefore, pending necessary requirements and procedures, all reported figures in the news remain unofficial,” Lacierda added.

Also, NDRRMC reported that 44,954 families or 213,502 persons were affected by the typhoon. As of 1 p.m., Wednesday, NDRRMC said 2,776 houses were destroyed by Pablo in Regions X and Caraga.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development provided P1.2 million assistance to the victims while local government units were able to provide P2.04 million in assistance.

Three coastal towns in Davao isolated

Meanwhile, in his report sent to Malacanang, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II said the damage from Typhoon Pablo in Davao Oriental is centered in three coastal towns—Baganga, Cateel, and Boston.

“Compounding the damage sustained, the three towns—with a total population of approximately 150,000 individuals—have become isolated as bridge connections—south from Mati and North from Compostela Valley—were struck down during the typhoon,” he said.

He said relief goods—primarily food, water, generators, tents, and medicine provided by the DSWD, local government units, and civilian donations—are stored in the capital, Mati.

Roxas authorized the local government of Mati, its mayor and the provincial governor, to use their calamity funds to hire all available large, local fishing boats for an immediate sea-lift transfer of goods to the affected areas.

In addition, Transportation and Communications Secretry Emilio Abaya is sending a vessel from the Philippine Coast Guard to help distribute the relief goods. The Philippine Navy has likewise arranged to send over a vessel.

Roxas said the situation in the rest of Davao Oriental is normalizing, and there are no visible signs of damage.

“The most difficult challenge we face is the restoration of power to the entire province, due to electric posts that were toppled during the typhoon. The local electric cooperative has assured us that gradual restoration of power begins twenty-four to thirty-six hours from now,” he said.

Price monitoring

Meanwhile, a separate dzBB report said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has ordered price monitoring in areas affected by the typhoon.

DTI Director Victor Dimagiba said they will not allow profiteering especially after such a tragedy.

He cited initial reports indicating prices of basic goods remained stable in Western Visayas and Negros Oriental.

Pablo made landfall on the eastern coast of Mindanao early Tuesday, bringing driving rain and strong winds that forced more than 56,000 to seek refuge in emergency shelters. It made landfall in Palawan on Wednesday morning.

It was the sixteenth storm this year to ravage the Philippines, which is hit with about 20 cyclones annually.

In December last year Mindanao was pummelled by tropical storm Sendong (Washi) which killed more than 1,200 and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

Canada offers assistance

Canada on Wednesday said it is ready to provide assistance to the victims of Typhoon Pablo as it extended condolences to those affected by the devastation wrought by storm.

"We stand with the people of the Philippines during this difficult time and remain ready to provide assistance if requested," Canada’s embassy in Manila said in a statement.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Diane Ablonczy also said: “On behalf of all Canadians, we offer our deepest condolences and sympathies to those who have lost loved ones or have been otherwise affected by Typhoon Bopha."

Officials at the embassy of Canada in Manila said they are closely following the path of storm that has left many people dead and scores missing across Mindanao and Visayas region. — With a report from Michaela del Callar/KBK/KG, GMA News