ComVal villagers flee from landslide

Houses washed away as river changes course

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10:39 PM January 28th, 2013

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January 28th, 2013 10:39 PM

TAGUM CITY—Scores of families fled their homes after a heavy downpour caused a landslide in a village in Maco, Compostela Valley, on Sunday, authorities said.

Several houses were washed away after a river in Barangay Mainit “changed course” following the landslide at past 7 p.m., according to Abel Dagoon, barangay chief.

Mainit is still haunted by memories of a similar incident—but of much bigger scale—almost six years ago. At least 20 people were killed in a series of landslides that hit the village and the neighboring Barangay Masara on Sept. 5-6, 2008.

Rains might have caused a portion of a hill in Zone 1 to give way early on Sunday, dumping rocks and loosened earth into a river, diverting its course and flooding the community, Dagoon said.

“A crack [found after the 2008 landslide] might have collapsed already. We are still assessing the extent of damage [to property]. Fortunately, no one was hurt,” Dagoon told the Inquirer by phone.

At least 86 families were evacuated, according to Senior Supt. Camilo Cascolan, Compostela Valley police chief.

Dagoon said a family of at least five people were briefly trapped but eventually rescued after the swollen river flooded the community. The landslide “dammed” the river, causing it to overflow, Raul Villocino, provincial disaster officer, said on Monday.

Local officials had declared Masara a no-habitation area following the 2008 killer landslides but several people reportedly returned and resettled there.

Dagoon said the evacuees spent the night at the village hall, elementary school and chapel.

Compounding their problem was the lack of electricity after last month’s typhoon knocked out power lines, he said. Frinston L. Lim, Inquirer Mindanao

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