Hopes fade for Urduja survivors as Biliran search enters 4th day

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 20 2017 09:36 AM

Rescuers search for bodies from the massive landslide in Barangay Lucsoon, Naval, Biliran on Monday. Photo courtesy of Police Regional Office 8

MANILA - Hope is fading fast that rescuers would find survivors four days after tropical depression Urduja triggered a landslide in the mountain-ringed province of Biliran, an official said Thursday.

Heavy rains brought by Urduja caused boulders, mud and debris from the mountains to crash down several villages in Biliran on Saturday.

Rescuers have pulled 33 bodies from the ruins of flattened buildings, but some 20 residents were still missing, said Sofronio Dacillo, a provincial disaster officer.

"Marami pa ang missing still nire-retrieve pa natin hoping na meron pang buhay... So far, parang wala na," Dacillo told ABS-CBN News.

(Many are still missing and we are trying to retrieve them, hoping they are still alive. So far, it seems that there will be no more survivors.)

Authorities, he added, are scrambling to repair bridges and roads destroyed by Urduja to speed up the distribution of relief aid to residents.

"Nahihirapan na kami sa supply ng pagkain kasi iyung canned goods namin, noodles, galing pang labas ng Biliran. Iyung transpo, medyo may kahirapan," he said in a DZMM interview.

(We are having difficulty with our food supply because our canned goods and noodles come from outside Biliran. Its transportation is somewhat a challenge.)

Urduja affected 8,700 families in Biliran, one of 6 areas where the slow-moving typhoon hit land, about a week before Christmas, Dacillo said.

At least 41 people were killed nationwide while 45 people were reported missing due to Urduja, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Tuesday.

Urduja has left the Philippine area of responsibility but a brewing storm off Mindanao threatens to dampen the country's Christmas celebration, state weather bureau PAGASA warned.

With a report from Kevin Manalo, ABS-CBN News