TACLOBAN CITY – More than three months after super typhoon Yolanda pounded Eastern Visayas, the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) here is still unsure of the official death toll.
The OCD have been visiting hardly-hit villages, believing that names of dead persons were reported twice and some were kept from the knowledge of authorities.
Angelo Bacho, OCD regional assistant operations officer, said that for more than three weeks now, their office has been going around in the villages to exactly determine how many of the residents there perished during the November 8, 2013 storm.
The OCD’s pre-disaster assessment needs teams, have so far visited the towns of Palo, Tanauan and Tacloban City, considered to be the worst-hit areas of Yolanda’s fury.
“So far, we couldn’t say if the number will increase or decrease since we have to revisit all municipalities with reported casualties. We are just 95% done with our assessment of casualties in these three areas,” Bacho told Leyte Samar Daily Express.
The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRRMC) has reported of 5,803 deaths in the region. In Tacloban, 2,606 persons were said to have died due to Yolanda.
The OCD is providing financial assistance to the member of the families of those who perished reason why they have to validate the number of those who were killed by Yolanda, Bacho said.
A financial aid of P10,000 would be given for each person who died due to Yolanda. Injured due to the typhoon is also to receive P5, 000.
Several companies like those which are engaged in insurance and lending have sought assistance with their office, Bacho said.
As of February 11, 69 applications for financial aid have been accepted by the OCD for 101 casualties in Tacloban City, Palo, Julita, and Pastrana in Leyte; and Basey, Samar.
In one community in San Jose district, one of the hardest-hit areas in Tacloban, there are about 200 deaths that were not reported by local officials to the local disaster and risk reduction management council (LDRRMC), Bacho said.
Based on the initial validated report of the OCD, at least 969 residents died in the area, nearly half of the 2,606 official count of death of the entire city.
Of the 2,606 casualties, 1,565 were validated by OCD as of February 11.
The death toll in the city could be higher, according to Bacho if non-Tacloban residents will all be included such as transient students and workers.
About 54 out of Tacloban’s 138 villages have reported casualties due to Yolanda. The city with more than 220,000 inhabitants is the regional capital of Eastern Visayas.
In the neighboring town of Palo, Bacho confirmed that there was a double entry of dead persons after checking the list with village officials and relatives of the victims.
“For Palo town alone, we found about 100 names counted as casualty twice,” he added.
In the last week of November, official death toll from Palo was 1,089. The figure was reduced to 902 last month. Of its 33 villages, 18 have casualty report.
By: SARWELL Q.MENIANO