15 killed, dozens missing as floods hit Bukidnon

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TAGUM CITY, Philippines—At least 15 people were killed and dozens others, including a police official, remained missing after floods spawned by Tropical Storm “Sendong” (international codename: Washi) hit Bukidnon province late Friday, disaster officials said.

Eleven people died in Baungon municipality while four others drowned in Libona town as torrential rains overflowed rivers and submerged 32 villages until Sunday, according to Arsenio Alagenio, provincial disaster risk reduction management head.

Flooded roads and destroyed bridges hampered the delivery of food and other assistance that officials had to ask the help of Philippine Air Force helicopters to drop supplies and transport rescue volunteers, Alagenio told the INQUIRER by mobile phone.

One of those missing is a certain Inspector Peñaflor, leader of a nine-man rescue team from the police regional office in northern Mindanao, who was swept by floodwaters as he crossed the Bubunawan river which separates Baungon and Libona towns, Alagenio said.

“We hiked to assess the situation in Libona after being stuck in Baungon and were about to cross the river when rushing floodwaters… washed him away,” Alagenio said, adding that they had to turn back as the Bubunawan River already overflowed, posing danger to the entire group of provincial disaster officials and rescuers trailing the police official.

Some of the rescuers and the rest of the police team opted to lag behind and searched for Peñaflor, but only his bag turned up. “His head bobbed twice as he was swept by the rampaging river, and moments later he was gone,” the disaster official said, adding overnight search for the policeman also yielded nothing.

All of the victims died from the flood although minor landslides throughout the land-locked province were reported. Alagenio said some of the dead were swept out to sea and found among the casualties in Bonbon, Cagayan de Oro City.

As of Sunday, floodwaters had subsided, but the disaster had affected 16 villages in Baungon, nine in Valencia City and seven in Libona, Alagenio said.

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