Thursday, December 22, 2011

13 unknown Sendong victims laid to rest

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines - Thirteen unidentified victims of tropical storm Sendong have been buried in Cagayan de Oro.

Their bodies can still be retrieved if relatives claim them.

Only soldiers, some journalists, and workers at a public cemetery were able to offer prayers for 13 decomposing bodies buried in Camaman-an, Cagayan de Oro.

The bodies did not have names -- only tags.

National Bureau of Investigation officers placed the remains in a chamber, so they can easily be exhumed.

"Itong bangkay temporarily ilibing namin. Di nakilala kaya ginawa namin yong identification process. Pag nagkakaroon ng positibo result sa reconciliation stage, kukunin yung bangkay at isasauli sa relatives nila," said Dr. Wilfredo Tierra, chief of the NBI's Disaster Victims Identification Team.

Sendong brought Cagayan de Oro to its knees, but it also gave rise to heroes -- storm victims helping others who suffered more.

"Simpleng kaligayahan po. Eto na yung pang-Christmas ko sa kanila saka sa sarili ko. I know how it feels po, na mabahaan," said nurse Sarah Corpus.

"Mahirap na hindi ka tumulong sa kapwa mo. Kahit na nabahaan ka na, kahit ikaw mismo nawalan ka ng kaibigan, mahirap na hindi tumulong kasi taga-dito tayo eh," said Dr. Tedd Feliciano.

"Overwhelming na ano, masaya po," said Janice Umalay, a volunteer in ongoing relief operations in Cagayan de Oro.

Other survivors, meanwhile, are trying to move on from the tragedy.

Some were cleaning up, while others are rebuilding their homes and their lives.

"Ang sa akin lang, may masilungan man lang kami ngayong Pasko kahit mahirap," said flood victim Teresita Bragas.

Many are still in evacuation centers, where diseases are spreading.

Government is now looking for a permanent relocation site for them. - reports from Jorge CariƱo and Francis Magbanua, ABS-CBN News; ANC

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