Landslides, floods kill 14 in Mindanao

Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - January 14, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - At least 14 people have died while 13 are missing due to floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains which have been pounding some areas of Mindanao since Friday, a regional disaster report showed yesterday.

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Davao said five persons were buried alive in a landslide in Barangay Tubaon, Tarragona, Davao Oriental.

Davao-OCD regional director Loreto Rirao identified the fatalities as Misael Cabales, Ramil Legaspi, Niño Madindin, Alfredo Moses and Roy Baron.

In Monkayo, Compostela Valley, 6-year-old Jenemae Gonzales was buried under tons of rocks and mud that fell on her family’s house in gold-rich Barangay Mt. Diwata.

“Four unidentified persons remain missing in that barangay, while one Rogelio Arcilla is also missing in Barangay Haguimitan. An additional 10 persons were also injured in the incident,” the OCD report said.

In Barangay Babag, also in Monkayo, a two-year-old child identified only by the surname Aquino died in another landslide.

Two other persons, identified as Francisco Lupe and Eddie Largo, died in Barangay Ngan, Compostela town.

Meanwhile, Melito Gortina, 19, from Caraga region, drowned in flooding that hit Barangay Lucena, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, according to OCD director Liza Mazo.

Nine persons were reported missing in Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands but two of them have been rescued.

The STAR earlier reported that five persons were said to have been missing in Carmen, Agusan del Norte but the incidents actually happened in Santiago, Jabonga and Tubay towns.

Another report from the Dinagat Islands Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said at least six persons were killed while two others went missing after a landslide hit Barangay Poblacion in the mining town of Cagdianao.

Dinagat Islands Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officer Ma. Jane Mayola identified the casualties as Atanacio Geltura, 62; Realyn Geltura, 41; Michelle Geltura 34; Felixberto Muñoz 34; Alqueder Muñoz, 2, and Primitivo Morales, 33.

Five houses were also buried by cascading boulders and soil.

As of yesterday, a total of 25,634 families or 128,215 persons are staying in 79 evacuation centers in Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental and Davao City, the OCD report from Davao added.


Under state of calamity


Butuan City has been declared under a state of calamity, OCD-Caraga regional office spokesman Mark Calang said yesterday.

Calang told The STAR that so far, only Butuan City among local government units in Caraga region affected by flooding and landslides has been declared as such.

According to Calang, 20 barangays of Butuan City, mostly those located along the Agusan River, were affected by flooding and landslides.


More rains expected


The state weather bureau warned yesterday the low-pressure area will continue to bring rains over the Visayas and Mindanao until Thursday.

Rene Paciente, weather forecasting section chief of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, said the low-pressure area was spotted at 70 kilometers southwest of Cagayan de Oro City as of yesterday afternoon.

Paciente said although the low-pressure area has slim chance of intensifying into a tropical cyclone, it was forecast to remain almost stationary over Cagayan de Oro City.

“It will remain quasi-stationary until Thursday. It will move west northwest toward Palawan on the same day and bring rains over southern Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao,” Paciente said.

The country’s eastern seaboard – composed of eastern Mindanao, southern Leyte, eastern Samar and southeast Luzon – usually experiences rains from December to March.


Classes suspended


Classes were suspended in several areas in Mindanao yesterday due to inclement weather, the Department of Education said.

Classes in all levels were suspended in Compostela Valley, Bayabas, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat Islands.

In Davao del Norte, Butuan City, Agusan del Norte , Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur only classes in preschool to high school were suspended.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda also ordered the suspension of kindergarten classes in both private and public schools.


P33-M relief aid


The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) yesterday said emergency relief assistance worth P33 million is ready for distribution in evacuation centers in flood-hit areas in Mindanao.

The emergency relief assistance is composed of standby funds of P2.64 million; 24,456 family food packs worth P6.25 million, and other food and non-food items amounting to P24.6 million.


PCG monitoring barge


The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) yesterday said it is monitoring the status of a barge that reportedly ran aground in Davao del Sur as a result of the heavy rains and strong winds brought by the prevailing low-pressure area.

“The barge ran aground somewhere in Mati, Davao del Sur. But this is not alarming because it was already anchored and took shelter but eventually it was dragged to a shallow area,” said PCG southeastern Mindanao commander Commodore George Ursabia.

He said that they are discounting the possibility of an oil spill since the vessel was brought to a shallow area with a sandy bottom, so its hull would most likely remain intact.

“We would extract the vessel once the weather improves,” he said.

All the crewmembers are safe after they were taken to a nearby PCG sub-station in Malita.

The PCG and the Philippine Navy are also on standby for the possible delivery of food rations to residents of the municipalities of Baganga and Cateel.

The two municipalities of Davao Oriental have been isolated because roads were no longer passable and bridges leading to these places have been destroyed by the heavy rains.

“We are on standby for possible relief operations by sea. We have to deliver food from Mati City to Baganga,” said Ursabia.

– With Edith Regalado, Ben Serrano, Celso Amo, Evelyn Macairan, Rainier Allan Ronda, Ria Mae Booc, Helen Flores, AP

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