NEWSFLASH: At least 25 dead, vast areas smashed by typhoon Odette; millions without electricity

A FLOODED portion of Surigao del Norte following the onslaught of super typhoon Odette

By ALFRED GABOT, Editor in Chief

CEBU CITY/QUEZON CITY – At least 25 persons were reported killed and several were missing as super typhoon Odette battered a vast area in the Visayas, Mindanao and parts of Luzon, making a landfall at least nine times before it exiting towards West Philippine Sea.

Odette packed maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour near the center with gusts of up to 240 kilometers per hours when it slammed into Siargao and other areas in Mindanao and the Visayas, some of which were flooded.

At press time, Cebu province, Cebu City, Surigao del Norte, Siargao, Diganat Islands and Bohol have declared their areas under state of calamity.

Several cities and provinces lost electricity and communication facilities at the height of the typhoon and the private sector and government joined hands to restore the facilities.

Around 3.16 million Filipinos had no electricity at home after Typhoon Odette knocked out power lines in their areas during its onslaught, said Energy Undersecretary Wimpy Fuentebella. Of the 3.16 million experiencing power outages, 490,000 are in the Visayas and the rest are from Mindanao.

Strong waves also destroyed and pushed several ships and boats to the shores. At least 78 vessels were involved in martime accidents, the Philippine Coast Guard reported.

Government facilities like provincial capitols, airports, schools and evacuation centers were among those damaged by the typhoon. Damage to agricultural crops and other insfractructures were still being checked at press time, but it is already estimated to run to billions of pesos.

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte, admitting that funds had been exhausted by the COVID-19 response, ordered officials to speed up restoration of electricity, communications and transportation and the distribution of relief goods and other assistance to the victims.

Duterte said he will inspect the areas damaged by the super typhoon.

The United Kingdom, China, Canada, and the European Union (EU) have expressed their readiness to assist the country following the devastation left by Typhoon Odette in several provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Presidential aspirant Sen. Manny Pacquiao cancelled his birthday festivities and channelled instead expenses to assist typhoon victims. His call for other presidential aspirants to extend assistance was immediately heeded by Vice President Leni Robredo who immediately flew to Bohol to check the damage and plan out assistance.

The famous Siargao island was the first area to be battered and together with Surigao del Norte suffered extensive damage. Almost 99 percent of Siargao’s population, including tourists, were affected, officials of the island said.

Eight persons alone were reported killed in Cebu City, seven in Mandaue City, and six in Lapu-lapu City.