COTABATO CITY—Mindanao’s largest swampland, Liguasan Marsh, overflowed from nonstop rains since Saturday, flooding low-lying communities here and in 16 towns in Maguindanao and North Cotabato.
The state weather bureau said a low-pressure area sighted east of Mindanao and the intertropical convergence zone were bringing moderate to heavy rains to most parts of the island.
Classes have been suspended since Sunday, as many schools were flooded after the Rio Grande de Mindanao swelled, Maguindanao schools division superintendent Meriam Kawit said. (In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Friday is considered a prayer day and Saturday is a rest day.)
At least 25 of the 37 villages here are still underwater, according to disaster officials. Some 20,000 families fled to safer grounds. In some villages, the water rose to knee level.
Also submerged were villages in Sultan Kudarat, Northern Kabuntalan, Kabuntalan Mother, Datu Piang, Talayan, Guindulungan, Datu Saudi, Datu Anggal, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Pagalungan and Datu Montawal, all in Maguindanao; and in Pigcawayan, Libungan, Midsayap, Aleosan and Pikit in North Cotabato.
The villages surround Liguasan Marsh, a wide expanse of wetlands covering around 250,000 hectares.
Heavy downpour on Monday again forced the suspension of classes in all public and private schools, Aniceto Rasalan, secretary to Cotabato Mayor Japal Guiani Jr., said.
Classes at Notre Dame University here were also suspended, as the main road leading to the school remained flooded, according to its president, Fr. Eduardo Tanudtanud.