Davao City: An official has denied reports of looting in typhoon-affected areas of southeastern Mindanao as the death toll in the natural disaster reached 647, with at least 817 people still missing.
Colonel Lyndon Panisa, spokesman of the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippines Army, said there was no truth in reports that there was looting in certain areas of Compostella Valley that is badly hit by typhoon Bopha (local name Pablo).
“No this is not true” Panisa told Gulf News in a text message when asked about the reported looting in New Bataan and Cateel towns.
Based on reports, residents who endured days without food and shelter were entering abandoned homes in search for anything to eat.
New Bataan and Cateel were devastated by Bopha. Hurricane category five strength winds tore roofs off houses and buildings and left them in a mass of twisted metal. The typhoon barrelled into the Philippines’ south with 180 kph winds.
Other parts of southern Mindanao that also suffered extensive damage and casualties include Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental.
Due to the extensive damage caused by Bopha to the eastern Mindanao, most road networks were destroyed, halting ground movement for quick response to land-locked areas.
However, several hours prior to the arrival of Bopha on December 4, the navy had dispatched its supply ships to the area with relief materials.
“At exactly 10pm of December 4, all the relief goods and heavy equipment were loaded to BRP Miguel Malvar at Mati City in Davao Oriental accompanied by rescue teams and proceeded to Baganga, Davao Oriental notwithstanding the rough sea conditions,” the navy said.
The BRP Malvar was carrying 31 tons of assorted relief goods when it arrived in Mati City.
Telecommunications and electricity supply were severely affected in the typoon-hit areas. As of Sunday, vast areas of Davao del Norte, including Tagum City, New Bataan and Cateel, are without power supply and is hampering efforts of the authorities to rehabilitate the victims.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said on Sunday, the number of the injured reached 1,088 while the missing persons climbed to 827.
Of the 540 fatalities, a majority of them died due to drowning, falling trees, and collapse of houses.
Bopha, which has been considered the most destructive weather disturbance to hit the country this year and the most damaging to hit Southeastern Mindanao region since the 1920s, has affected 1,096,607 families, or 5,408,229 individuals in 2,317 villages in 248 municipalities and 35 cities in 30 provinces.