AT LEAST P1 billion worth of infrastructure and agriculture products were destroyed during the onslaught of Tropical Storm Urduja (international name Kai-tak) while the death toll has risen to 41, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Wednesday, December 20.

NDRRMC spokesperson Romina Marasigan said damage estimates are expected to increase because assessment is still ongoing.

She said a total of P543.22 million worth of roads and bridges were damaged in the provinces of Masbate, Eastern Samar, Samar, Leyte and Compostela Valley.

At least P475.3 million worth of agriculture products were also destroyed in the said provinces as well as in Masbate, Sorsogon, Camarines Sure, Cebu, Biliran, Southern Leyte and Northern Samar.

Marasigan also said 54 houses were reported to have been destroyed while 115 others were damaged.

The council recorded 19 landslides, 14 flooding incidents and a capsized boat incident as heavy rains and strong winds battered the Visayas region for five days.

"We are still waiting for the update on the casualties of the Tropical Storm Urduja from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) pero nagpasabi na sila sa una na tataas ang bilang ng mga namatay dahil ‘yung mga dating nawawala ay napabilang na sa mga namatay (they have advised us that the death toll is expected to rise because those reported missing have been presumed dead),” said Marasigan.

Meantime, of the over 55,000 families who earlier evacuated due to Urduja, only 11,715 families remained in the evacuation centers as of Wednesday.

She assured that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will continue its relief operations to assist the affected people.

“Naglo-load tayo ng additional food and non-food items kasama na rin ang replenishment pati preposition ng mga relief goods para sa mga maaaring tamaan naman ng LPA (low pressure area),” Marasigan said, referring to the weather system that is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility later this week and will be named Vinta.

Clearing operations in the affected areas are also underway by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), she added. (SunStar Philippines)