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Radio journalists among casualties of Yolanda storm surge in Tacloban

For radio anchorman Ronald Viñas of DYVL Aksyon Radyo Tacloban, reporting the impact of super typhoon Yolanda as it lashed across the city with gale force winds and driving rain may have been just another act of public service, done with the help of a generator after power was cut off by the storm.

Sadly, it would be his last broadcast.

Viñas and radio technician Allan Mendiola were among those confirmed dead after a storm surge swept through their station at the height of super typhoon Yolanda last Friday, the Sun Star Cebu newspaper reported Tuesday.

The program went off the air while the radio workers were giving typhoon updates, according to the report quoting Niño Padilla, Manila Broadcasting Company network head for news and station manager of DYRC Cebu.

Three drama talents who were also inside the two-storey building remain missing along with their families whom they had brought inside the building to seek shelter from the storm, said Padilla. Search teams are still looking for them, the report said.

The radio station is located in the coastal barangay of Poblacion in Tacloban City, Padilla said.

As of Monday evening, the official death toll stands at 1,774 – most of them from Region 8, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

But local officials fear some 10,000 fatalities in Tacloban alone, where about 80 percent of the structures were destroyed due to a storm surge -- an abnormal rise in sea levels associated with strong winds and abnormally low atmospheric pressure brought by a strong typhoon.

Most of the damage and deaths were caused by waves that inundated towns, washed ships ashore, and swept away villages in scenes reminiscent of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

The Philippines is annually buffeted by tropical storms and typhoons, but Yolanda was an especially large catastrophe. Its winds were among the strongest ever recorded, and it appears to have killed more people than the previous deadliest Philippine storm, Thelma, in which about 5,100 people died in the central Philippines in 1991. – Marc Jayson Cayabyab with a report from AP/YA, GMA News