Similar to super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013 which took more than 7,000 people, Typhoon Ursula (Phanfone) wreaked havoc in Visayas regions on Christmas day, flooding remote villages while leaving many people homeless, dead, and missing. Affecting areas such as Eastern Samar, Leyte, Boracay and other tourist destinations including Palawan, Typhoon Ursula forced thousands of Filipinos to evacuate their houses for safety amidst the 2019 holiday celebration. Along with these, there were more than 20,000 commuters stranded in terminals and airports, celebrating their Christmas with disappointment and worries.
At least today, Friday, it was reported that there are already 28 people dead in regions affected by typhoon Ursula, which devastated houses, power posts, and various public facilities. However, damages are expected to rise as Ursula is still present in the country, but slowly moving away from central Philippines to Northwest of Coron (Palawan), 300 km, and 295 km to Southwest of Subic (Zambales) all the way to Vietnam at 15 km per hour, still carrying strong winds, with heavy rains and thunderstorms. Though, Visayas is now under Signal No. 3, according PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration).
According also to the official report, there are also fatalities in Leyte (Southern part), Capiz and Iloilo. As of now the toll rose to 28, 13 are from Iloilo alone. These accidents include electrocution, falling debris, car accident, and drowning. It was reported that in Iloilo, 6 family members died altogether while celebrating Christmas; somewhere in Batad. Travel by planes and by buses has been cancelled due to the risks; among these are by Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, and Cebgo. In Kalibo, Aklan, the airport was reported to have been damaged yesterday.
The typhoon carries winds with the force of 195 km per hour, destroying and tearing houses apart; killing animals and even several people on its path in different places. In many areas affected, communication networks and internet were cut off and still not working since yesterday up to today. Though, many have been restored, enabling authorities to assess and monitor the situation. As of the moment, rescues are still being made especially in isolated communities.
Due to the typhoon’s intensity, it was reported by the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) that there were more or less 2,000 houses listed as damaged while there are estimated 58,800 people currently staying in evacuation centers. Many of these evacuees spent Christmas eve or the traditional “Noche Buena” in the said area. Along with these damaged infrastructures were 55 schools and power sources in 150 towns. In various small cities, commercial services are suspended, making it more difficult for others to access food, assistance, and other necessary resources. Typhoon Ursula will totally leave the Philippine territory by Saturday, December 28, according to PAGASA.