Tropical depression Urduja or Kai-Tak has already made landfall over Eastern Visayas on Saturday as a tropical storm, resulting in at least 31 deaths and 49 others being reported missing. When it hit, it had winds up to 55 kph and gusts up to 90 kph. Now, the possibility of a new storm named Vinta before Christmas has kept the Filipinos on tenterhooks.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Rogue announced the death toll on Monday, December 18, in a news briefing in Biliran, where he mentioned that 23 casualties were from Biliran, 5 from Leyte, 2 from Samar and 11 from Eastern Samar, reported Rappler. Most of the deaths occurred due to landslides, said the authorities.
Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) is still monitoring Urduja, which was spotted 65 km east of Romblon, whereas Vinta is nearing the eastern coast, presently at 1,950 km east of Mindanao.
According to data from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), 44,369 families resorted to the 608 evacuation centres in Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Mimaropa, Eastern Visayas and Caraga, to escape from the natural disaster.
More than 16,000 passengers have been stranded in the last three days in various places affected by Urduja. Currently, about 2,900 passengers are stranded in the storm-stricken area, most of them in the Manila North Harbour.
According to meteorological experts, Urduja will leave Philippines after making landfall six times before December 19. It is currently over the West Philippine Sea. The next threat for the region is Vinta, which is expected to follow Urduja's route, although not interfering in its movements.
Several regions of Philippines still remain under storm signal number 1, like Romblon, Sorsogon, Aklan, etc. It remains to be seen whether Vinta further affects the already-struggling region and hampers the Christmas celebrations of the Southeast Asian country.