2 private planes deployed to Siargao Island after Typhoon Odette, says lawmaker

December 17, 2021 - 4:32 PM
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Satellite image of Typhoon Odette as of 1:50 p.m., Dec. 17, 2021. (PAGASA/Released)

Private planes have already been deployed to conduct rescue operations on Siargao Island where Typhoon Odette first made landfall.

Rep. Francisco Jose Matugas II of Surigao del Norte First District started to release updates on his Facebook page after nearly hours of disrupted communication lines with those outside the island.

In his latest post on Friday, December 17 at 10:51 a.m., Matugas said the private planes carried doctors, medicines and first aid kits.

“We have two private planes leaving within the hour from this posting, from Legaspi City, bringing a team of doctors, medicines and first aid kits to augment emergency and rescue operations in Siargao Island,” he said.

Matugas first made a status update on the island earlier at 6 a.m.

This had been more than 12 hours since Odette made landfall. The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) reported the landfall occurred at 1:30 pm on December 16.

In his post, the lawmaker reported that all communication lines on the island were down.

He also requested the Philippine Coast Guard and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to deploy a chopper or a plane to establish contact and determine the situation there.

The second update was posted at 9:25 a.m.

Matugas announced that local authorities have finally established contact with Richard Atlas, the officer-in-charge at Siargao Airport.

Based on an initial assessment, the damage of Odette to the island was “devastating.” One of the affected properties was the airport terminal.

“It is regrettable however that the Siargao Airport Terminal was totally damaged. Per Mr. Alas’ initial assessment, the damage of Odette in Siargao is devastating. There are no updates yet as to casualty,” he said.

Matugas also shared some good news.

“The good news is Gov Lalo (Surigao del Norte Governor Francisco Matugas) and (former governor of the province) Sol Matugas are safe despite being trapped while visiting evacuation centers in Siargao. Also, the Siargao Airport runway is clear of debris. Thus, planes and choppers carrying relief goods can land,” he said.

Moreover, he announced that the NDRRMC has deployed two choppers from Davao to conduct an aerial assessment of the island and the entire province.

Matugas advised the public to standby for succeeding updates on the situation.

“Please standby for more updates. Let’s continue to pray that there are no casualties and all our beloved Surigaonons and Siargaonons are safe. Thank you,” he said.

Cry for help from affected people

A young entrepreneur named Colz Vidal bared in a lengthy Facebook post that it has been seven hours as of her posting when she lost contact of other people in Siargao.

“It has been 7 hours since we lost contact with every single person in Siargao. Seven hours of waiting for an update, seven hours of intense worrying and anxiety,” Vidal said.

She also released video clips that showed strong winds and floodwaters rampaging through parts of the island.

In the post, Vidal said that these videos were the last communication she had from other people in the area.

“Up until now, all I can feel is how devastating the situation is. I am so anxious and I don’t know what to think and feel. The lack of any updates is making me all fidgety and restless,” she said.

In a separate post, Vidal appealed for help online for donations to charter a private plane to Siargao.

“Our Siargao resident community is organizing a relief good operation and we will be hiring a private plane charter to Siargao STARTING TODAY. However, we need more funds to make it happen, as well as enough collection for the relief goods,” she said.

Andi Eigenmann and Philmar Alipayo had also been sharing video clips of their situation through Instagram Stories since the storm first hit on Thursday afternoon.

As of the latest weather advisory, the state weather bureau advised that Odette had already weekend and is moving westward.

The storm, however, maintained its strength as it approached Palawan with “maximum sustained winds of 155 km/h near the center, gustiness of up to 215 km/h, and central pressure of 955 hPa.”