Brgy. Sipi in Bato, Catanduanes after Typhoon Rollie. Thank you Miggie Rodulfo/Radio Natin Weerach.
Manila - Philippine authorities regained contact with the island province of Catanduanes on Monday, briefly interrupted after the year's worst typhoon, as authorities said the forced evacuation prevented more deaths than the 20 recorded so far.
Three people have also been reported missing in the southern provinces of the main island of Luzon, according to the emergency agency, and some regions are still not connected.
Typhoon Rollie (international name Goni), which hit the provinces south of the capital Manila, is the 18th this year and one of the strongest typhoons since Yolanda (Haiyan), which killed more than 6,300 people in 2013.
More than 13,000 homes, some as high as five meters, were damaged when Rollie, with wind gusts of up to 310 kilometers per hour, landed in Catanduan on Sunday, Provincial Governor Joseph Qua said at a news conference.
"With the typhoon gone, we have no air or sea transportation," Qua said, adding that he hopes the country's energy department can help restore power.
Catanduanes and the southern Luzon province of Albay bore the brunt of the storm and caused all 16 deaths, the emergency agency said.
"We will not allow you to be isolated." We will not let you down," said Harry Roque, a presidential spokesman.
Approximately 90 percent of Catanduan's infrastructure was damaged, according to government data.
Richard Gordon, president and senator of the Philippine Red Cross, said in a statement that "this typhoon has destroyed people's lives and livelihoods, in addition to the continuing physical, emotional and economic losses of COVID-19.
President Rodrigo Duterte conducted an air damage survey on Monday. Flying from his hometown of Davao, he landed in Guinobatan City near Mount Mayon, the most active volcano in the Philippines.
Dutherte ordered an investigation of the quarries that residents complained had led to the burial of hundreds of homes in volcanic rocks and mudflows, Assistant President and Senator Christopher Goh told reporters.
Officials said the evacuation of more than 345,000 residents prevented more deaths.
"The goal should be zero, but since people were forcibly evacuated, our losses have been reduced," Roque said.
Rolley hit 2.1 million people in Luzon, representing more than two-thirds of the economy, leaving more than 50,000 homes without electricity by Monday.
Strong winds and rains caused crops worth 1.1 billion pounds, mainly rice and corn, Agriculture Minister William Dar said.
Before Rollie's strike, the Philippines was struggling with the effects of Typhoon Quintus, which killed 22 people in southern Manila provinces, most of whom drowned.
Another storm, the Atsani, is gaining momentum in the Pacific Ocean as it approaches the Philippines, where there are usually about 20 tropical storms a year.
Vietnam said Rollie is predicted to hit its central coast Wednesday night, dropping more heavy rains in an area where flooding and landslides have already killed about 160 people in the last month, dozens of whom are missing.
Several vessels and maritime structures are seen in Gigmoto, Catanduanes after the devastation of Super Typhoon Rolly in the province of the island. Photo courtesy of Cecilio Hagos, Good Neighbors International Philippines