THE low-pressure area that’s been heading for the Philippines has become a tropical depression, the weather bureau said.

Vinta was located 790 kilometers east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur and gaining strength, as of Wednesday.

It packed winds of up to 45 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 60 kph, said Visayas Director Oscar Tabada of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

Tabada clarified that Vinta will only bring light to moderate rains and may not hit Cebu during the coming days.

He said that Vinta was moving westward at 20 kilometers per hour and was forecast to make landfall either in Davao Oriental or in Surigao del Sur.

In another weather-related development, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 sent an additional 15,600 family food packs to Biliran yesterday on board a Philippine Navy vessel.

Ma. Evelyn Macapobre, DSWD 7 director, said the additional family food packs complete the 20,000 food packs they promised to deliver to Biliran to help those affected by tropical storm Urduja.

Last Tuesday, DSWD 7 sent 2,700 family food packs to the province.

Macapobre said they can send additional food packs but this may take some time as their warehouses in Cebu have shifted from automated to manual repacking and some of their repacking machines are still being set up.

While she encouraged private individuals to donate relief packs, Macapobre said they will implement strict inspection of all donated food packs to ensure these are neither expired nor rotten.

They want to avoid the scenario they experienced during typhoon Yolanda when some donated relief goods turned out to be expired or unsafe for consumption.

Macapobre said that unlike during Yolanda, they will not send personnel to Biliran to assist in relief efforts there.

“No need for deployment since it’s not the entire region that was affected by the storm,” she added.

Urduja ravaged parts of Eastern Visayas, leaving a trail of devastation. In Biliran, at least 26 people were killed and 23 others are missing.

Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III asked Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Head Officer Baltazar Tribunalo to assess Biliran to determine how much assistance the Province needs to give typhoon survivors there.

Tribunalo said that he will go to Biliran today after handing the Capitol’s P1-million assistance to Ormoc City, which a 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck last July.

“Ang Capitolyo naa man quick response fund, so ato nang itabang ngadto sa atong mga kaigsuonan sa Biliran (The Capitol has a quick response fund that we can tap to help the survivors in Biliran),” he said. (Rolyn May Jumao-as, USJ-R Intern)