NDRRMC says 4 confirmed dead
MANILA—The feared death toll from typhoon Odette, which battered the Philippines, has risen to 31, officials said on Saturday, nearly triple the previous day's number as rescue teams reached damaged areas and communication lines were restored.
Four people have been confirmed dead after being hit by falling trees and another 27 people were feared to have died as a result of Odette (international name: Rai), the country's disaster agency said in a statement used by news agency Reuters.
Mark Timbal, spokesperson of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, provided ABS-CBN News with the same tally.
Meanwhile, according to official tallies gathered by news agency Agence France-Presse, at least 33 people have been reported killed in the storm.
Odette was the 15th and among the deadliest of the tropical storms to strike the Philippine archipelago this year, driving more than 300,000 people to shelter in evacuation centers. Many areas were still without power on Saturday.
The hard-hit central provinces of Cebu and Bohol declared a state of calamity to access disaster funds and imposed a price freeze on basic goods.
At one point a Category 5 storm, the highest classification, Odette brought 195 kph winds before making landfall on Thursday.
The typhoon swept out of the Philippines on Saturday afternoon after making 9 destructive landfalls, the first of which was in the holiday island of Siargao.
"Odette was really strong. Almost 95% of houses in Dinagat Island are without a roof," Nilo Demerey, vice governor of Surigao del Norte province, told a local radio station.
Evacuation centers housed in churches, schools and gyms were also badly hit, Demerey added.
Some 309,000 people remain in evacuation centers, data from the disaster agency showed.
Many areas are still without power, and corn and rice plantations have been flooded, Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor told the same radio station.
"This is indeed one of the most powerful storms that has hit the Philippines in the month of December in the last decade," Alberto Bocanegra, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Philippines, told AFP.
"The information we are receiving and the pictures we are receiving are very alarming."
A disaster official in the central province of Negros Occidental told AFP 13 people had died, most by drowning, and that another 50 were missing in a flood-hit area.
"We started urging people to evacuate as early as Wednesday but many were reluctant to leave," Salvador Mesa said.
More than 18,000 military, police, coast guard and fire personnel will join search and rescue efforts in the worst-affected regions, Mark Timbal, spokesman for the national disaster agency, told AFP.
Every year, about 20 tropical storms hit the Philippines, causing floods and landslides.
The Southeast Asian nation, made up of more than 7,600 islands, is also prone to frequent earthquakes. (Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales Editing by Mark Heinrich) — With reports from Reuters, Agence France-Presse