More provinces placed under state of calamity due to wrath of 'Usman'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 31) — More areas are reeling from the aftermath of Usman, previously classified as a tropical depression.

Sorsogon Governor Bobet Lee Rodrigueza said the province was placed under state of calamity on Sunday after 8 died in the area due to landslides caused by heavy rains. Camarines Norte risk reduction management council on Monday also unanimously approved the recommendation to declare the province under the state of calamity.

Eight towns in Oriental Mindoro, namely Baco, Bongabong, Bansud, Socorro, Pinamalayan, Pola and Calapan City, are also under a state of calamity.

The provinces of Camarines Sur and Albay were earlier placed under a state of calamity.

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara said this resolution was passed "in order to implement, complement and sustain the disaster quick response and recovery activities." Once a state of calamity is declared, price controls would be imposed on basic necessities and prime commodities and local government units could appropriate calamity funds.

He said residents were warned about the possible effects of the tropical depression, but many did not expect the amount of rain dumped by Usman. Ten residents were killed due to landslides in Albay, while one was carried away by a strong current. He said some residents remain missing.

The governor said the calamity funds will be used to attend to the needs of the residents, especially the displaced ones.

More than 10,000 families have been evacuated in Albay in the aftermath of Usman.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Albay public safety officer Eugene Escobar said they are still assessing the safety of affected areas.

"'Yung mga report mga nakalagay samin as of now, we have 15 casualties, but we're still awaiting reports coming from the LGUs, including damage reports on infrastructure and agriculture. Out of 15 deaths, meron ding 11 na missing, and continue pa din po ang search and retrieval operation dun sa mga respective areas," he said.

Usman poured 84 percent of the monthly rainfall when it battered Albay, resulting in damage to property and infrastructure.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) said according to the unverified reports it has received, the death toll has reached 68 in the Bicol Region and Eastern Visayas, as of Monday. Nineteen people remain missing in the wake of Tropical Depression Usman, which was downgraded to a low-pressure area after making landfall in Eastern Samar Saturday morning. The Office of Civil Defense said the death toll could rise further as reports come in.