Storm Dante lashes South,Palace assures relief funds

Tropical storm Dante lashes the Visayas. (Beverly Lozano Donato / CNN Philippines)

HEAVY rains brought by Storm Dante triggered flooding and landslides, and stranded thousands of passengers and cargo in various ports in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, disaster officials said on Wednesday, as Malacañang Palace said some P1.1 billion worth of standby fund could be used to help those affected by Dante (international name: Choi-wan).

In a statement on Wednesday, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the fund will be used by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for its disaster response.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported three fatalities in Davao Oriental, Davao del Sur and South Cotabato while two others were injured and one missing.

The Philippine Coast Guard also reported that a vessel, LCT Jaqueline Star, was abandoned by its crewmen before it sank near the shoreline of Albuera, Leyte due to the storm.

The Jaqueline Star  was owned by Roble Shipping Line and skippered by Capt. Alexander Zamora. It was carrying sand and gravel, and was on its way to the next port of Higatangan, Biliran.

Coast Guard spokesman Armand Balilo said PCG personnel are working to prevent a possible oil spill while a boom was thrown around the waters where the vessel sank.

Dante brought heavy rain in various parts of Eastern Visayas and Mindanao before moving toward the Bicol region, where it made a second landfall in Cataingan, Masbate at 2 a.m. on Wednesday.

Amid and even before the storm touched land, officials implemented preemptive evacuation in the provinces of Sorsogon, Bohol and Southern Leyte, with 96 families moved to safer areas.

The NDRRMC said Dante triggered incidents of flooding and landslides in the provinces of Cebu, Leyte, Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, Agusan del Norte and the Davao provinces.

Some key highways and bridges in the affected provinces were closed to traffic due to flooding while some areas experienced power outages.

On Tuesday, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Southern Leyte, Surigao del Sur and Tacloban City suspended work in government offices and classes in schools due to Dante.

As of Wednesday, the NDRRMC reported that 566 families or 2,642 persons were affected by the storm in 18 barangays in Regions 11 and 12.

Balilo said the Coast Guard monitored a total of 3,007 individuals, 73 vessels and 792 cargo that were stranded in ports in Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Southern Tagalog, Northeastern Mindanao and Bicol region amid the storm.

DSWD fund

Meanwhile, Roque said P113 million of the P1.1-billion standby fund was used for the procurement of 222,383 food packs.

When the country was hit by its first typhoon this year (Auring, international name: Dujuan), DSWD still had P1.2 billion worth of relief and financial aid.

Roque said the government is monitoring the impact of Dante. “The safety of everyone remains our main concern.  Let us therefore remain alert and vigilant, and cooperate with authorities while observing the minimum public health standards against Covid-19 during this storm,” Roque said.

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