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Landslide due to 'Agaton' kills 2 in Cebu

Water rushes near a community center in Barangay Paknaan, Mandaue City after a nearby river overflowed due to heavy rains in Cebu yesterday. Two people were killed and thousands fled floods as Tropical Depression Agaton hit central Visayas and northern Mindanao following deadly back-to-back storms during the Christmas season. Freeman

MANILA, Philippines — Heavy rains spawned by Tropical Depression Agaton caused a landslide in Cebu, killing a 63-year-old woman and another person before dawn yesterday.

Agaton – the first tropical cyclone for 2018 – barreled through parts of the Visayas and Mindanao, triggering flash floods and landslides in areas still reeling from back-to-back storms Urduja and Vinta, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

The fatalities were Flora Matas and Richie John Rivas Pimentel, 29, both of Malabuyoc town in Cebu.

Matas, her husband and their three children were at home in Sitio North Suba, Barangay Looc when a landslide occurred, burying their house at around 5:30 a.m. Matas’ husband and their children survived.

Rescuers retrieved the victim’s body an hour later.

Pimentel died after floodwaters swept away the ladder he used, causing him to fall and hit his head on the concrete pavement.

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Power was out in Cebu due to rains and strong winds.

Agaton made five landfalls over Socorro, Surigao del Norte at 1 a.m.; Claver, Surigao del Norte at 1:15 a.m.; Jagna, Bohol at 4 a.m.; Santander, Cebu at 5 a.m. and Bais City, Negros Oriental at 7:30 a.m. It was expected to slam into Palawan last night.

The center of Agaton was spotted at 185 kilometers east- southeast of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan as of 4 p.m.,
 according to PAGASA.

Despite hitting landmass five times, Agaton maintained its strength of 55 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 65 kph. It was forecast to move westward at a speed of 28 kph.

As of 5 p.m., only the province of Palawan, including Cuyo Island, remained under Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 1.

PAGASA weather specialist Arnel Rojas said the weather condition has improved in other areas hit by Agaton.

Rojas said scattered to widespread moderate to heavy rains are expected over areas under Signal No. 1 as well as in the Bicol region, Eastern Visayas, Southern Quezon, Panay Island and the rest of the Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan).

“Residents of these areas must undertake precautionary measures against possible flash floods and landslides and should coordinate with their local disaster risk reduction and management offices,” he said.

The highest volume of rain from Agaton was recorded in Maasin, Southern Leyte at 200.2 millimeters in 24 hours, followed by Surigao City at 178.8 mm, Rojas said.

Sea travel remained risky in areas under Signal No. 1 and in the seaboards of Northern and Southern Luzon, eastern seaboard of Central Luzon, eastern and western seaboards of the Visayas and eastern seaboard of Mindanao due to the surge of northeast monsoon and Agaton.

Agaton is expected to exit the Philippine area of responsibility tomorrow.

The northeast monsoon will continue to bring rains over the rest of Luzon, including Metro Manila, in the next few days.

Workers in a broom manufacturing shop in Paknaan, Mandaue City in Cebu try to salvage reusable materials as their production area gets wiped out by flashfloods. FREEMAN

Thousands flee homes

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said over 1,200 people fled their homes in Central Visayas and Caraga region at the height of heavy rains.

NDRRMC spokesperson Romina Marasigan said at least 301 families or 1,287 individuals were displaced by Agaton. The affected families are temporarily taking shelter in evacuation centers.

A majority of the evacuees were from Loboc, Bohol and Toledo City in Cebu.

At least 27 families from Barangays Buenavista and Quezon in Masbate were evacuated due to flash floods.

Several families also fled their homes in Capiz, Dinagat Islands and Surigao del Norte.

Landslides were reported in Silay City in Negros Occidental.

Residents of Barangays Paraiso and Fabrica in Sagay City, also in Negros Occidental, were evacuated due to flash floods.

Agaton also flooded several villages in Capiz.

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said its field offices have activated operation centers to monitor the impact of Agaton.

Replenishment of prepositioned food packs is ongoing in areas affected by the tropical depression, the DSWD said.

Passengers stranded, flights canceled

More than 6,400 passengers were stranded in various ports after the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) suspended sea travel.

The stranded passengers were monitored in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Sorsogon, Surigao, Ozamiz, Dapitan, Butuan and Southern and Western Leyte.

PCG spokesman Capt. Armand Balilo said 78 rolling cargoes and ships as well as 10 motorboats were also stranded.

The PCG canceled trips of fast craft and roll on-roll off (Roro) vessels in Iloilo and Bacolod due to heavy rains.

Roro vessels were barred from leaving the ports of Escalante and San Carlos in Negros Occidental.

Flag-carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific canceled domestic flights yesterday due to inclement weather brought by Agaton.

The Manila International Airport Authority announced the following canceled flights: Cebu Pacific flights 5J 895/896 Manila-Caticlan; 5J 325/326 Manila-Legazpi; 5J 647/648 Manila-Palawan; 5J 639/640 Manila-Palawan and two Cebgo flights DG 6073/6074 Manila-Tablas and DG 6177/6178 Manila-Masbate.

PAL Express flights 2P 2203/2204 Manila-Roxas; 2P 2921/2922 Manila-Legazpi and 2P 5903/5904 Manila-Roxas were also canceled.

PAL and Cebu Pacific said they would mount additional flights today to accommodate the affected passengers. – Janvic Mateo, Evelyn Macairan, Gilbert Bayoran, Rudy Santos, Jennifer Rendon, Celso Amo

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