MANILA (UPDATE) — Dinagat Islands in Mindanao has been leveled to the ground after being battered by Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai), the provincial government's public information officer (PIO) said Sunday.
In an interview with ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, Jeff Crisostomo said food, potable water, temporary shelters and construction supplies for the rebuilding of houses are needed in the archipelago-province where Odette, the country's strongest typhoon this year, made its 2nd landfall on Thursday afternoon.
"Pagdating sa mga bahay ng mga tao hanggang sa government buildings natin, nasa 90 percent to 95 percent ang damage, hanggang sa totally leveled to the ground," said Crisostomo, who spoke from Butuan City as communication and power lines were still down in his home province.
(When it comes to people's houses to our government buildings, the damage was about 90 to 95 percent. It was totally leveled to the ground.)
"Kung 'yong magnitude ng Yolanda ang pagbabatayan natin, ang tumama sa Dinagat ay kundi reminiscent of Yolanda, it's much worse," he said, referring to the super typhoon (international name: Haiyan) that struck the Philippines in 2013, leaving some 6,300 dead and thousands missing.
Dinagat Islands has seven municipalities and a population of more than 128,000 that mostly rely on fishing and farming for their livelihood, said Crisostomo.
According to him, an estimated 90 percent of crops in the island had been "wiped out" by the storm while many boats were destroyed.
As of Saturday night, Dinagat Islands has reported 10 deaths, he said. The low number of casualties shows that early preparations for Odette worked, he added.
"At least, iyong nawala ay bahay, hindi buhay," he said.
(At least what was lost to the storm were houses, not lives.)
Crisostomo also noted that the province's three district hospitals had been damaged by the typhoon, with one considered as "inoperable."
But doctors have already set up field hospitals across the archipelago to treat injured residents, he said.
Crisostomo said the province is expecting to receive food packs from the Department of Social Welfare and Development as well as aid from Vice President Leni Robredo.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said it has deployed its ships to Dinagat Islands and Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte to ferry residents and tourists to Surigao City.
In a Facebook post, it said it would continue holding transport missions until needed.
"Dagdag pa rito, kasalukuyang nakikipag-koordinasyon ang PCG sa malalaking shipping companies sa bansa para mag-request ng passenger vessels na maaaring magamit sa isla para sa malawakang transport mission," the PCG said.
(Adding to this, the PCG is also currently coordinating with big shipping companies to request for passengers vessels that can be used for transport missions.)
Meanwhile, in Northern Mindanao, "majority" of evacuees have begun to return to their homes except those in Bukidnon where houses remain buried in mud, said Lt. Col. Michelle Olaivar of the region's police force.
"Tutulungan natin sila kasama ang ating local government unit na medyo malinis 'yong kanilang tahanan," she said.
(We will help them, along with the local government unit, to clean their homes.)
Olaivar said seven have been reported dead in the region while three sustained injuries.
"We are hoping, sana hindi na madagdagan (the number won't increase)," she said.
Olaivar said the police have not received any reports of looting in commercial establishments during the onslaught of the storm.
In Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, 16,433 are still in evacuation centers, said Mayor Junard Chan, who spoke to TeleRadyo from a nearby town as communication line in his city was still out.
The storm also toppled "60 percent of the electrical posts" in the city, said Chan, noting that clearing operations are underway.
Chan also appealed for construction materials needed to rebuild houses in the city.
At least 75 people have been reportedly killed due to Odette, which also caused the displacement of nearly 500,000, according to tallies from local officials. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said, however, it continues to validate some of the reported deaths.
— With a report from Agence France-Presse