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‘Urduja’ fury: 27 dead, 24 missing in Biliran

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Tropical Storm Urduja left at least 27 people while 24 others were reported missing due to landslides and flooding in several areas in Biliran province.

Initial reports on Sunday showed that 16 of the fatalities were from Caibiran, a municipality surrounded by rivers.

Lolita Rosel, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (MDRRM) officer, said the fatalities perished after landslide debris buried nine houses in Cabibihan village Saturday night.

Seven bodies were already recovered and identified during the retrieval operations, Rosel said in a telephone interview.

The fatalities were identified as Ronald Español, 27; his common-law-wife Jessebel Mandaue, 25; their children James Ron, 4; and Judy Ann, 2.

Also killed were their neighbors Mylene Bendicion, 33; Manuel Lambunao, 5; and Merlan Sancap, 37.

Retrieval operations are ongoing to recover the bodies of other victims.

“The local government unit will no longer allow about 30 families to return to their old homes located in a landslide-prone community,” Rosel told the Philippine News Agency.

Affected residents will temporarily stay in an evacuation center in Cabibihan village while waiting for their transfer to permanent shelter to be built by the National Housing Authority.

In Almeria town, four were killed when massive landslide buried houses in Iyusan village. The fatalities were Jimmy Jorge, 2; Winnie, 55; Wilma, 12; and Maribeth, 50, all surnamed Garbo.

In Naval town, MDRRM officer Raoul Villordon confirmed that six people died in a landslide and 21 others still missing in Locsoon village.

The town of Biliran also reported one death, three missing persons, and eight injured due to widespread flooding.

The massive floods brought about by the tropical storm destroyed bridges, isolating several towns.

The national highway from Biliran town to the provincial capital of Naval rendered impassable after the collapse of Caraycaray Bridge.

The Department of Public Works and Highways estimated the infrastructure damage at P200 million in Biliran after Urduja’s powerful winds and heavy rains ravaged one of the country’s smallest province.

The typhoon also destroyed two elementary schools in Naval town with an estimated damage of P30 million as reported by the Department of Education. (PNA)