Bodies of Yolanda victims still being found

Posted at 03/26/2014 9:47 PM | Updated as of 03/27/2014 12:38 PM
Super typhoon Yolanda also destroyed the "little Malacanang" in Tolosa, Leyte. The property of former First Lady Imelda Marcos can no longer be recognized from what it was when the Ms. Universe 1978 contestants visited the place. Photo by Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

TACLOBAN CITY - Almost five months after super typhoon Yolanda, residents continue to discover bodies under the piles of debris.

Nicasio Botin, the chief of the National Bureau of Investigation-Disaster Victim Identification (NBI-DVI) in Tacloban, said at least 15 bodies were found last week and were delivered to their laboratory for identification.

"Until now, may mangilan-ngilan pa ring na-re-retrieve. I’m not aware of the exact number of bodies, but they just deliver the remains here for processing," he said.

All bodies collected by the team are brought to Barangay Suhi, which is 13 kilometers north of the city proper. The others are brought to the Holy Cross Memorial Cemetery and Barangay Basper.

In Barangay Anibong in Leyte, no less than six ships were swept inland at the height of super typhoon Yolanda. These ships now form part of the barangay along with shanties in the so-called "Yolanda Village". Photo by Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

Despite this, the NBI-DVI finished last March 23 its post-mortem processing of more than 3,000 unidentified bodies. Some have already been buried.

“In this process, we examine for identification the clothes, wallets, and others,” he said. They also take dental pictures that they send to experts for identification.

The library in Palo, Leyte was badly damaged by super typhoon Yolanda. Some writers and authors like Mitch Albom have pledged to help construct new libraries in several areas of Leyte.Photo by Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

Botin said they are now preparing for the post-mortem processing, where DNA will be collected.

"We will also take DNA from the relatives and other details that they will be able to give us."

He said the anti-mortem phase will take at least six weeks. A final and full report, however, will only be available after three years.

The body count from the strongest typhoon to hit the country has breached 6,000. The government has long stopped giving detailed information on the actual number of deaths.

Some families continue to look for their loved ones, while the rest are trying to live normal lives. 

The first mass grave was put up in San Joaquin in Palo, Leyte.Photo by Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com