TACLOBAN CITY: It’s been more than three months since Super Typhoon Yolanda leveled many areas in Central Visayas, but bodies continue to pile up, especially in this city, which has not stopped counting its dead.
Angelo Bacho, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) regional assistant operations chief, said that from February 11 to February 17, the Task Force Cadaver retrieved 16 bodies from coastal barangays in the city.
Five of the decomposing bodies were found in Barangays Tigbao, Di-it and Manlurip on February 11, three were retrieved from Barangays Fatima Village, Manlurip and Fisherman’s Village on February 13, and eight were discovered in Barangays San Jose, Manlurip, Sagkahan and Anibong on February 17.
This brings the number of bodies collected by the task force to 2,622 in Tacloban City alone.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd had initially estimated the death toll from Yolanda at only about 2,000 to 2,500, far lower than the estimate made by a local police official.
Two days after the typhoon, Chief Supt. Elmer Soria, the former Eastern Visayas regional police chief, stated that the death toll could reach 10,000. He was relieved days after making that statement.
Malacañang, through Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte, dismissed accusations that the government is suppressing data on the Yolanda death toll as “pure speculation.”
So far, the Eastern Visayas Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has recorded 5,808 deaths based on the reports of the city, municipal and provincial disaster councils. The number of those missing remains at 983.
However, the OCD claims there have been double-listings, bloating the death toll, according to Bacho.
“Karamihan sa mga cadavers na dumarating ay mga batang nalunod o nabagsakan ng mga structures at mga puno na nagiba. Minsan may mga cadaver bags na kahoy ang laman. [Most of the cadavers collected are of children either drowned or were crushed by collapsed structures and trees. Sometimes the cadaver bags contained pieces of wood],” he said.
“Kailangan talaga suriin para masigurado na hindi nagdodoble ang bilang ng mga nare-recover na patay sa mga areas na napektuhan [We really need to check those cadaver bags to ensure that there are no double-listings of dead bodies recovered from the affected areas],” Bacho added
According to him, the teams coming from various regional offices of the OCD have been visiting the affected coastal communities to ensure that no fatality is reported twice or kept from the authorities.
“Masasabi namin na talagang totoo ang aming list dahil ito ay na-verify ng mga miyembro ng pamilyang namatayan dahil sa Yolanda [We can really say that our list is correct as this is verified by the family members of those who were killed by Yolanda],” Bacho said.
However, Bacho admitted that many typhoon survivors still lack electric power supply.
“Kulang talaga ang manpower kaya hindi maibalik agad ang kuryente sa lalawigan [There really isn’t enough manpower to efficiently carry out power restoration plans for the province],” Bacho told The Manila Times.
He said it will take time before power is restored to all households.
While the city’s business center and vital institutions such as hospitals have electricity, only 36.87 percent of 35,937 households have power.