DOOMED. The situation in Surigao City in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette as of Monday (Dec. 20, 2021). All concerned government agencies are pooling their resources and manpower to bring basic needs such as food, water, hygiene kits, and sleeping materials. (Photo courtesy of Jilson Tiu-Greenpeace via PTV4)

MANILA – Forensic investigators will assist in identifying the fatalities of Typhoon Odette, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Tuesday.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has reported that to date, the casualty count has climbed to 156, with 37 still missing, and 275 injured.

However, only nine deaths and two injuries have been validated so far.

“If there are bodies who cannot be identified by their own relatives or friends, I will request the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) forensic group to help in the identification,” Guevarra told reporters via text message.

Ships are already bringing relief goods and medical personnel to affected areas.

Presidential yacht, BRP Ang Pangulo, is also serving as floating hospital to serve Dinagat Islands and Siargao.

The BRP Gabriela Silang of the Philippine Coast Guard left Manila on Sunday and arrived in Surigao Tuesday morning carrying about 50 tons of relief goods and medical, rescue, and relief augmentation teams.

As of 5 p.m. on Monday, damage and losses in agriculture in Regions Calabarzon, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Central Mindanao, Davao, and Caraga has amounted to PHP362.3 million, affecting 12,906 farmers and fishers, with volume of production loss at 20,319 metric tons and 23,438 hectares of agricultural areas but are still subject to validation, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Affected commodities include rice, corn, high value crops, and fisheries.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office in the Philippines, which is working with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, said in its website that nearly 490,000 were displaced. (PNA)