By: Philippine News Agency November 26, 2013 5:52 AM
TACLOBAN CITY - The Philippine National Police (PNP) has recovered 57 more cadavers in this city on Sunday, 17 days after super typhoon "Yolanda" (international code name: Haiyan) struck Eastern Visayas provinces.
Senior Superintendent Emmanuel Aranas, deputy director for operations of the PNP crime laboratory, said in a briefing Monday morning that more bodies have been recovered everyday as the national government launched massive clearing operations.
"We have to dispose cadavers immediately since it's already in the advanced stage of decomposition. Since they perished from natural calamities, families of victims don't even bother to identify dead bodies," Aranas said.
Dead bodies were retrieved by the 300 police personnel in the hardly hit coastal villages of Magallanes, Anibong and San Jose district. Clearing operations paved the way for the recovery of more bodies.
Since November 9, policemen have recovered 1,932 bodies in the typhoon-ravaged Tacloban, a city of more than 200,000 population, the capital of Eastern Visayas.
Of the total number, 235 bodies are still unidentified by the police scene of the crime operatives, according to Aranas.
"We are asking the National Bureau of Investigation to lead the identification of cadavers to facilitate the disposal of bodies," the official said, citing an administrative order of the health department designating the NBI as the lead agency in cadaver identification after natural calamities.
Police admitted that disposing these bodies have been hampered by lack of equipment that will transport cadavers to mass grave sites in northern villages of Suhi and Basper.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) deployed only six trucks to transport dead bodies from villages to mass grave sites.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported the number of casualties has reached 5,235 when super typhoon "Yolanda" hit central Philippines on Nov. 8. There are still 1,613 missing persons.
Deaths have been reported in 35 towns in Leyte, eight towns in Eastern Samar, and two towns in Samar, according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
In typhoon-stricken Leyte towns of Palo and Tanauan, public plazas were converted by the local government as mass grave sites.
However, in many villages, residents tagged burial sites for their relatives. Some are located along roadsides, residential areas, vacant lots and near the shores.
Paula Sydiongco, assistant regional director of the Department of Health Eastern Visayas, said this practice is unlawful considering the health hazards posed to the community.
"We will look into that problem, but our priority for now is addressing other health risks arising from the disaster such as leptospirosis and water-borne diseases," Sydiongco said.
Aranas confirmed there are some illegal burials in Tacloban but they have to tolerate that for now considering the lack of resources to collect all cadavers.
"I think we should tolerate that for now, but we just make sure that burial sites are not close to water sources," he noted.