[UPDATED] At least 17 people have so far been confirmed dead in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette in Palawan, including the capital of Puerto Princesa City, hours after telecommunications facilities in the province were partially restored.
Local authorities told Palawan News they are expecting more casualty and damage reports in the coming days, as information has only started trickling in today, Wednesday.
The northern towns remained isolated from the capital, as relief efforts by the provincial government and the private sector began.
As of Tuesday, the provincial disaster office has reported that around 90 percent of houses in the island town of Araceli have sustained damages.
Roxas town itself has sustained unprecedented damage, with six reported deaths and 5,272 families displaced. The PDRRMO said three people have been listed as missing in Aborlan and eight in Roxas.
The provincial government has put up a rescue and relief operation in the town of Roxas, north of the capital.
On Wednesday, a naval vessel transported at least 500 sacks of rice from Manila to the disaster area in Roxas. Vice President Leni Robredo was the first national official to arrive at the disaster area in Roxas, bringing at least 500 sacks of rice with her.
Voluntary groups have also mounted relief efforts using social media, taking advantage of the reinstallation of telecommunications services throughout most of the mainland.
There were no reports yet coming from Araceli and Dumaran towns, which were initially reported to be severely hit by the typhoon, as access to the island towns is still limited. The PDRRMO said they have already sent some 350 sacks of food packs to the isolated islands.
The national road connecting Puerto Princesa and northern Palawan has remained impassable due to massive landslides around the areas of Barangays Langogan and Binduyan. Provincial information officer Atty. CJ Cojamco said that repairs in these parts of the city may still continue beyond Christmas day.
In Puerto Princesa City, the main highway bridges in barangays Tanabag, Langogan, and San Rafael were still undergoing repairs as of press time. The bridge in Barangay Maoyon, earlier reported as damaged, is already accessible.
Power services in the mainland are partially being restored, after the entire province was shut down when Odette made landfall in central Palawan between Puerto Princesa City and Roxas on Friday afternoon.
Southern Palawan towns also reported damage, but the main highway from the city towards Bataraza was spared from major destruction.
Damage reports from Puerto Princesa City
Some 18,312 families in various city barangays were evacuated during the height of the typhoon, according to the CDRRMO.
The city had earlier reported seven confirmed deaths and three still unverified casualty reports. The city released the identities of the casualties as follows: Rey delos Angeles 42 yo (died on Dec. 17, body retrieved on Dec. 20), Bienvenida Manalon, 90 yo (died on Dec. 17, body retrieved on Dec. 20), Rosa Abito 67 yo (died on Dec. 17, body retrieved on Dec. 20), Nannete Joseph 38 yo (died on Dec. 17, body retrieved on Dec. 20), Tony Cortes – drowned (died on Dec. 17, death confirmed on Dec. 21).
According to Richard Ligad, the city’s information officer, the total damage estimate is around P281.3 million, which includes P157 million for major roads and bridges, P84 million for government buildings, P6.8 million for other roads and structures, and P33 million for livestock losses. (with reports from Arphil Ballarta, Rachel Ganancial, Ma. Louise Santos, and Frederick Kim Dagot)