‘Ursula’ death toll rises; power out in over 60 towns, cities

(UPDATED) The death toll from Typhoon Ursula (Phanfone) has risen as more fatalities were reported in affected regions in the Visayas Thursday, December 26.

A report by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said there were nine fatalities: two in Pontevedra, Capiz; three in Balasan, Iloilo; three in Batad, Iloilo; and one in Abuyog, Leyte.

Another report, from local government units, said 12 people were killed in Eastern Samar, Iloilo, Capiz and Leyte.

Affected local government units were still assessing on Thursday, December 26, the extent of the damage and verifying reports of casualties while conducting clearing operations.

More than 60 cities and towns in Eastern and Western Visayas regions were also without electricity and telecommunication services were erratic, the national disaster agency reported hours after Typhoon Ursula barreled through central Philippines on Christmas Day.

The powerful typhoon, which hit land in the Visayas seven times with destructive winds of 140 to 195 kilometers per hour and intense rains, felled trees, caused flooding and storm surges, blew off roofs, cut off power and communication lines, and damaged several structures.

In Eastern Samar, Typhoon Ursula claimed the lives of Carlos Yu Beltran, 70, and Wilson Quizon Ogatio.

Beltran, of Barangay 3, Balangkayan town in Eastern Samar, drowned after his house was swept away by storm surge.

Ogatio, of Barangay Holywood, Guiuan, was hit by a flying galvanized iron sheet.

Four fishermen were reported missing: Clyde Lustre, 52; Danilo Banezar; Artemio Ybanez, 55; and Fiel Fabiliran.

Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone said the Provincial Government will give P25,000 to the families of each victim.

Meanwhile, system operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), in an advisory, said the following transmission lines in the Visayas were still not available as of 9 a.m. Thursday, December 26, 2019.

Panitan-Sara/Panitan-Sapian 69kV Line

Customer affected: Capiz Electric Cooperative (Capelco)

Date/time out: 25 December 2019 / 4:18 a.m.

Nabas-Sapian 69kV Line

Customer affected: Aklan Electric Cooperative (Akelco)

Date/time out: 25 December 2019 / 5:47 a.m.

Nabas-Caticlan 69kV Line

Customer affected: Akelco

Date/time out: 25 December 2019 / 7:56 a.m.

Borongan-Quinapondan 69kV Line

Customer affected: Eastern Samar Electric Cooperative (Esamelco)

Date/time out: 24 December 2019 / 1:50 p.m.

Ormoc-San Isidro 69kV Line

Customer affected: Leyte Electric Cooperative (Leyeco V), Biliran Electric Cooperative (Bileco), Leyeco III, Don Orestes Romualdez Electric Coopertive (Dorelco)

Date/time out: 24 December 2019 / 6:21 p.m.

Babatngon-Apitong-Arado 69kV Line

Customer affected: LEYECO II

Date/time out: 24 December 2019 / 6:13 p.m.

A 138kV line that tripped when the typhoon slammed into Aklan cut off power supply to the entire province.

Joel Martinez, operations manager of Akelco, confirmed the blackout.

"We are still currently conducting assessment. Power may be restored in Kalibo for weeks while the entire province maybe months depending on the damage. We are currently coordinating with the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines for our restoration activities," he said.

Kalibo, capital of Aklan, was declared under a state of calamity during a special Kalibo City Council session Wednesday.

"The declaration also comes with the approved budget of P2.5 million quick response fund of the local government of Kalibo," said Kalibo Vice Mayor Cynthia dela Cruz.

The Kalibo International Airport has been shut down temporarily because of damage to the old and new terminal buildings.

“Our assessment for safety is still ongoing. We may reopen the airport December 27 or 28 depending on the result of our assessment," said Eusebio Monserat, head of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines-Kalibo.

In its situational report as of 6 a.m. December 26, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said a total of 87 towns and cities in Eastern Visayas (Region and Western Visayas (Region 6) experienced power outage at the height of the typhoon.

The NGCP and utility companies have been able to restore power in 24 towns as of Thursday.

Seven road sections were still not passable as of Thursday morning because of flooding while two schools in Iloilo and Roxas City in Cadiz were damaged, the NDRRMC report said.

A total of 12,364 families, or 58,400 individuals, were evacuated in Mimaropa, Bicol, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas.

As of Thursday morning, 425 families or 1,654 persons were still taking temporary shelter in evacuation centers.

As of 4 a.m., Typhoon Ursula was spotted 155 kilometers northwest of Coron, Palawan. It has slightly weakened, with winds of 130 to 160 kilometers per hour.

The state weather bureau said the typhoon is forecast to exit the Philippines on Saturday, December 28, 2019. (MVI/LMY with Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo and Jun Aguirre/SunStar Philippines)