MANILA, Philippines — Authorities continue to conduct search and retrieval operations for missing individuals after the onslaught of tropical storm Vinta in the region of Zamboanga.
Forty residents of Zamboanga remain missing, while 70 others were confirmed dead.
Sixty-five of the casualties were residents of Zamboanga del Norte, while five were from Zamboanga Sibugay.
Despite the ongoing relief operations for affected residents, many of them are still having extreme difficulty after the powerful typhoon wreaked havoc in their region.
“Kaya ngayon nagmomoblema ako kung ano ang gagastusin ko dito sa mga kakailanganin ( I’m having problems on where to get money to spend for our needs,” said Robin Alimpong, relative of a casualty.
Albinia Agan, a resident of Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay said, ” Isa talaga sa kailangan namin ay banig, kumot, kulambo, kaldero dahil yung mga nawalan ng bahay, walang-wala talaga (Among our needs are beddings, blankets, mosquito nets, pots. After we lost our homes, we also lost our valuables).”
Meanwhile, typhoon Vinta has also damaged 542 infrastructures, while 2,250 affected residents are still staying at temporary shelters.
Two national highways remain closed. These are in the municipalities of Mahayag and Salug, where the bridges have been also damaged.
According to Junalyn Maravillo, an officer of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management of the Kabasalan Municipality, the residents have to follow warnings in case another calamity strikes so as to avoid many casualties.
“Although informed sila dahil kung hindi sila nainformed lahat sila ay malulunod. Informed sila na mag-preemptive evacuation na sa upper area kaya sudden talaga ang pagtaas ng water level, (Although they had been informed, because if they were not, they would have drowned by now. They were informed about the pre-emptive evacuation in the upper area. The rise in the water level was really sudden),” said Maravillo.
Maravillo also emphasized that authorities and local government officials properly issued warnings and advisories to the region’s residents.
However, the disaster response officer noted that the residents had just refused to evacuate from their homes. — Leslie Longboen | UNTV News and Rescue
BOC execs in Zamboanga suspended over missing rice
Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar and Zamboanga District Collector Atty. Lyceo C. Martinez | Photo via Zamboanga City Government Facebook page
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – District Collector Atty. Lyceo Martinez and other officials of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) Zamboanga District were suspended on Tuesday (October 9) over thousands of sacks of rice that remains missing.
The rice supply was turned over to the BOC after the seizure operation.
Martinez has an existing charges of gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service prior to his suspension.
His co-accused are District Commander of the Customs Police Filomeno Salazar and two others.
The BOC continues to investigate where the missing goods were possibly delivered. – UNTV News and Rescue
Duterte orders suspension of officials linked to missing 23K sacks of smuggled rice
Smuggled sacks of rice in a Zamboanga City warehouse | Image via Zamboanga City Government Facebook account
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the suspension of officials responsible for the disappearance of 23,000 sacks of smuggled rice in Zamboanga City in September.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said, Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapena has already ordered the administrative relief of Zamboanga Customs District Collector Lyceo Martinez and Customs Police District Commander Filomeno Salazar due to the incident.
“Nagalit po talaga ang presidente because how can you lose 23,000 sacks,” said Roque.
“Obviously it cannot be done in a clandestine manner. Nakita ng lahat na inilalabas itong mga nahuling bigas at incredible at kagalit-galit na napupuslit ang ganitong karaming bigas na nahuli na ng gobyerno na being smuggled,” he added.
Authorities were able to recover 16,000 sacks after a series of raids in various warehouses.
There are still 17,000 sacks missing, some of which may have already been repacked and distributed to stores, which is why the President has ordered the National Food Authority, the Bureau of Customs and the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a thorough investigation into the case. — Rosalie Coz
Death toll from torrential rains in western Japan reaches 200, dozens still missing
A rescuer in the search for missing people, excavators working (Image grabbed from CCTV video via Reuters)
The death toll from the torrential rains that have battered western Japan reached 200, authorities said Thursday, as search and rescue missions continue to find dozens still missing in the wake of flooding and landslides.
More than 70,000 personnel are involved in the ongoing search and rescue missions for the 60 or more people still unaccounted for in the areas affected by the deluge.
These include the hardest-hit regions of Hiroshima, Okayama and Ehime prefectures.
For days now, Masumi Fujita, a survivor in Hiroshima, has done little but worrying about his girlfriend. She was at home on Friday night when torrential rains started pounding Western Japan. The last time they spoke was on the phone on his way home, but he has not been able to hear from her since.
“She’s missing because of a series of unfortunate events. Now that I think about it, I could have intervened in one of those events. There’s a chance I could have prevented the tragedy,” said Fujita.
Fujita’s girlfriend could be one of the few still missing from their village in Hiroshima. Three days of heavy downpour set off landslides in different parts of the prefecture, killing scores. Search and rescue workers have been digging through rubble, looking for survivors or bodies.
Over 70 people have been confirmed dead in Hiroshima alone. Search teams are taking advantage of the improved weather, clearing the worst-hit communities of boulders that the rains have sent crashing down and debris from the destroyed homes.
“I walked up from the bottom of the hill towards where my house was, and when I looked up where my house was supposed to be, the only thing I saw was the foundation,” said Fujita.
As the search efforts continue, the Japanese government has earmarked more than 630 million U.S. dollars for reconstruction.
Fujita said he hoped to rebuild the life that he had shared with his girlfriend, so he is holding on to what little hope there is of finding her alive.— Reuters