TACLOBAN CITY, Jan. 3 (PNA) – Half of the road covered by landslide debris that buried several people alive in Catbalogan City, Samar is now partly passable after days of clearing operation.

Nida Aroza, city social welfare officer of Catbalogan, said in a phone interview that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), local government units and some volunteers cleared half of the lane.

The city government reported at least 19 casualties and three missing persons in the landslide site in the city’s Mercedes village on Dec. 30 due to torrential rains brought by storm “Seniang.”

“The LGU will shoulder all burial expense of families of victims,” Aroza said.

Families of victims have yet to decide when to bury their loved ones who perished during the landslide incident.

Some 22 families near the landslide site are now in evacuation centers after their homes were destroyed by boulders.

Storm “Seniang” has affected 115 families in Catbalogan with 22 totally damaged houses and 135 partially destroyed houses.

“We will assist them until we see that they can manage it on their own,” Aroza said.

In a statement, Samar Governor Sharee Ann de los Santos expressed grief on the loss of lives due to the landslide.

“Today is a bittersweet time for all the people of Samar as we bid goodbye to 2014. We are all grieving from the lives and hard-earned possessions that Storm Seniang took… Let us never lose sight of our Samarnon spirit. Despite the challenges and adversities, we always rise up at the end because that is who we are,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Samar provincial government announced that all roads within the province are already passable including the national highway from Calbayog City to Sta. Margarita previously submerged by flood. (PNA)