As thousands flee ‘Ruby’, rescue preparations shift to islands in Eastern Mindanao

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/06 December) – Military units tasked with rescue operations have shifted their attention to the Province of Dinagat Islands and Siargao Islands in Surigao del Norte where 3,234 families have already fled hours before typhoon Ruby is expected to make landfall in Eastern Samar on Saturday.

Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao, commanding general of the 4th Infantry Division, said he has asked the Philippine Air Force to send four Huey helicopters in case Ruby wreaks havoc in these islands tonight.

Aside from the helicopters, Lactao said three Philippine Navy gunboats are ready to sail any moment from Butuan City to Dinagat and Siargao islands if the situation worsens.

“We are also concerned if there are tourists in Siargao Island. I have directed my officers to coordinate with the tourism regional office,” Lactao said.

Siargao, particularly General Luna town, is a world-renowned surfing destination.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, in its advisory at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, said Ruby is expected to make landfall somewhere in Eastern Samar early Sunday.

The NDRRMC warned residents within Ruby’s diameter of 600 kilometers of a 7.5 to 20 millimeter of rains.

The Office of Civil Defense Caraga region information officer Amado Posas said 3,242 families or 14, 629 persons in Dinagat and Siargao islands have already fled to safer grounds hours ahead of Ruby’s landfall.

“Many have fled to higher grounds in their islands. They are now living in schools, gyms and whatever shelters are found in the hills,” Posas said.

According to the OCD, a total of 9,160 families or 39,390 persons have been evacuated in the provinces of Dinagat Islands,  Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Butuan City. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)