Agaton leaves 1 dead, strands ship passengers

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star
Agaton leaves 1 dead, strands ship passengers
This April 10, 2022 photo shows a flooded area in Barangay Macasandeg in Pikit, North Cotabato.
The STAR / John Unson

MANILA, Philippines — Flooding and heavy rainfall brought about by Tropical Storm Agaton in the Visayas and Mindanao resulted in one reported death so far in the Davao region.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said one person has also been reported missing, also in Region 11.

Agaton, as of yesterday, has affected some 38,399 families or 45,588 persons from 106 different barangays in Region 10, 11, Caraga and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Rains and flooding have so far displaced 23,841 families with 3,228 families or 11,264 persons now staying at 52 evacuation centers.

The NDRRMC said initial assessment on damage to agriculture has been placed at P870,000 covering 230 hectares of crop land in the BARMM.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said moderate to heavy rains are expected over Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, and the Northern portion of Cebu including Bantayan and Camotes Islands.

Agaton is also forecast to bring light to moderate, with at times heavy rains, over Masbate, Sorsogon, and the rest of Visayas and the Caraga region.

PAGASA, in a weather bulletin, said the center of the country’s first tropical storm this year made landfall over Calicoan Island, Guiuan, Eastern Samar early yesterday morning.

“Today through early Tuesday, Agaton is forecast to move erratically or remain almost stationary over the southern portion of Samar Island and its coastal waters due to weak steering environment,” the state weather bureau said.

“Due to the expected erratic movement, a westward shift of the forecast track is possible. Thus, Agaton may move over the coastal waters or may make another landfall over Leyte,” PAGASA noted, adding that by mid-Tuesday, the tropical storm is expected to gradually accelerate and turn east southeastward or eastward as it “undergoes a binary interaction with the incoming tropical cyclone with international name, Malakas.”

“Agaton is forecast to degenerate into a remnant low by late Tuesday or early Wednesday as Malakas begins to assimilate its circulation,” the weather bureau added.

PAGASA said Malakas is forecast to enter the Philippine area of responsibility by late Monday or early Tuesday, and though it is expected to stay for a short period of time and will not be making landfall based on its northeastward or north northeastward direction by Wednesday, “it may influence the movement and development of (Agaton).”

Signal No. 2 has been declared over the southern portion of Eastern Samar covering the areas of Guiuan, Mercedes, Salcedo, Quinapondan, Giporlos, Balangiga, Lawaan, General MacArthur, Hernani, Llorente, Balangkayan, Maydolong and Borongan City; southern portion of Samar including Marabut, Basey, Calbiga, Pinabacdao, Villareal and Santa Rita; northeastern portion of Leyte covering the areas of Babatngon, Tacloban City, Palo, Tanauan and Tolosa; and the northern portion of Dinagat Islands including Loreto and Tubajon.

Signal No. 1 was hoisted over the rest of Eastern Samar, rest of Samar, Northern Samar, Biliran, the rest of Leyte, Southern Leyte, and northeastern portion of Cebu including the areas of Daanbantayan, Medellin, Bogo City, Tabogon, Borbon, San Remigio including Camotes Islands and Surigao del Norte and the rest of Dinagat Islands in Mindanao.

Flash floods displace hundreds

More than 50 barangays in the lowlands in central Mindanao got inundated after the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta overflowed due to heavy downpour over the past three days.

Hundreds of families were displaced by flash floods that swept through dozens of barangays on Saturday in neighboring Pikit, North Cotabato and in Pagalungan and Montawal towns both in Maguindanao.

The three towns are touted as gateways to the Liguasan Delta, a catch basin for large rivers from hinterlands in central Mindanao’s Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, North Cotabato and Bukidnon provinces.

The Bangsamoro government’s Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence, or READi contingent, dispatched Sunday emergency responders to Pagalungan and Montawal to provide villagers food and other essentials.

Rescue teams from the Bureau of Fire Protection-BARMM and members of the local police relocated on Saturday night no fewer than a hundred families in Barangay Limbo in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao to higher ground due to the inundation of villages in the area.

Personnel of the Sultan Kudarat Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office are now attending to the needs of the flood-stricken villagers, according to Mayor Shameem Mastura.

Bangsamoro Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, who is overseeing the regional government’s READi disaster and calamity response outfit, said they will extend relief support to residents in all flooded towns in Maguindanao.

Coast guard suspends sea travel

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Station in Sorsogon early yesterday suspended sea travel to provinces in the Eastern Visayas region because of strong winds and waves brought about by Agaton.

“All trips of vessels en route to Eastern Samar, the rest of Samar, Northern Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte and Camotes Islands are hereby suspended due to Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal (TCWS) No. 1 being hoisted in the area,” said PCG Sorsogon Station head Commander Christian Jazmin.

PCG spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo said that as of yesterday morning the situation at the Matnog Port in Sorsogon was rainy, “There was a long queue of vehicles (that were supposed to board the roll on, roll off vessels). There was also a slow turnaround of vessels because of the rough sea condition.”

As of 5:30 p.m., the PCG said a total number of 1,419 passengers, drivers and helpers; 951 rolling cargoes and 10 vessels were stranded; while 71 vessels and six motor boats took shelter to escape storm Agaton.

Of the 1,419 people stranded, 502 were in Eastern Visayas, 503 in Bicol, and 414 in Northeastern Mindanao.

Meanwhile, on Saturday the PCG rescued two fishermen who were caught in rough sea conditions while they were attempting to secure their motorized boat in Sarangani province.

At around 2 p.m. of April 9, the two fishermen swam toward their motorized boat to secure it at the nearest shore. During that time, the boat was moored some 350 to 360 meters from the shoreline, but the rough sea caused their motorboat to flip.

Purok chairman Antonio Siarot, of Sitio Danggan, Barangay Kabition in Maasim, saw the fishermen in distress and he immediately proceeded to the PCG Sub-Station in Maasim. At 4:20 p.m., or more than two hours after the distress call, Coast Guard personnel were able to rescue them. – John Unson, Evelyn Macairan

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