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3 dead, 1 missing in Mindanao floods, landslides


TO MAKE the Kabuntalan town hall in Maguindanao province accessible, officials have put up a wooden bridge from the main road. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Three people have been reported killed while another went missing as floods and landslides took place in at least three Mindanao regions following intermittent rains since July 21, authorities said.

More areas were also declared under states of calamity, as the number of affected people swelled to nearly 500,000 in Western Mindanao, Central Mindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, even as the rains continued on Monday, according to figures culled from various offices and aid agencies there.

The latest fatality was identified as Tasvia Sadatan, 38, of Gutalac, Zamboanga del Norte.

Chief Insp. Ariel Huesca, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao police, said in Gutalac alone, landslides and floods had affected four villages and left more than a dozen houses destroyed.

“One person was confirmed dead and another one, identified as Rulina Sumimba, 40, is still missing,” Huesca said.

In Zamboanga City, floods and landslides left at least two children dead in Barangay (village) Limpapa on Saturday.

Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-

Salazar told the Inquirer that Ayen Kaluoyan, 6, and her brother Agustin, 13, were trapped inside their house built below the bridge in Sitio Kumati when a big boulder rolled into it as rain lashed the city.

Salazar said landslides had also been reported in the villages of Curuan and Divisoria, and damaged around 70 houses.

A footbridge in Barangay Maasin here was destroyed by huge waves while in Barangay Tugbungan, a riprap also collapsed.

“Days of heavy rain softened the soil,” Salazar said as she explained the slides.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said the persistent bad weather condition had forced it to suspend the sailing of sea vessels from Zamboanga City to Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi.

Lt. Junior Grade Jomark Anggue, Coast Guard Zamboanga District Station commander, said sea vessels had been disallowed since Sunday from setting off to their destinations, as authorities try to minimize casualties.

The days of raining have also flooded 20 villages in the town of Tulunan, North Cotabato, which prompted the town’s council to place it under a state of calamity.

Jeric Ardina, chief of the Tulunan Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said the floods also destroyed some 64 hectares of rice fields and corn lands, and that the damaged was placed at

P1 million.

“Most of the crops damaged during the flash floods have no more chances of recovery,” Ardina said.

Mayor Lani Candolada said the declaration of a state of calamity would pave the way for the use of the town’s calamity fund so affected residents could be provided immediate assistance.

Candolada said the office of the municipal agriculturist has started distributing seedlings to at least 500 farmers so they could restart their  livelihood.

Tulunan was the latest to be placed under a state of calamity after the nearby Maguindanao province, where nearly 300,000 people had been displaced.

Earlier, Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guiani Jr. also declared a state of calamity in the city following floods that submerged 26 of the city’s 37 villages and the displacement of some 100,000 people.

Iloilo

In Iloilo City, hundreds of residents were evacuated on Sunday after floods hit several barangays due to continued heavy rains.

The City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) reported that 135 families, or about 675 people, temporary left their homes starting Sunday morning, as water levels rose in their villages.

The evacuees were residents of Barangays Sooc, Calubihan, Calajunan and Bakhaw. No casualties were reported, according to Mario Mahinay, CSWDO supervising administrative officer.

The flooding affected at least 998 families or around 4,990 people.

The evacuees took shelter in barangay halls and day-care centers. Most of them returned to their homes late on Sunday, except for nine families from Sooc, who were able to return home only late on Monday morning, Mahinay said.

Cebu

In Cebu City, classes in at least three rooms in Toong Elementary School were suspended on Monday noon because of a landslide at the edge of the slope where the school was located.

Simeon Romarate, executive officer of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CCDRRMC), said they recommended to the school officials the evacuation of the students in the three rooms for Grades 1, 5 and 6.

The landslide reportedly happened on Sunday because of the heavy downpour that lasted for several hours on Saturday.

Romarate said that when they inspected the area on Monday, they found that there was a crack on the wall of the room occupied by Grade I pupils. The rooms for Grade V and Grade VI were not damaged, but these were located near the landslide site, he added.

Romarate said they told school officials that they could proceed with their regular classes on Tuesday, but they have to find other rooms for the affected students.

The school building in Toong was located at the top of a slope and since this is a landslide-prone area, Romarate said, his office would recommend to Mayor Michel Rama to find another site for the school. The CCDRRMC reported another landslide that happened in Barangay Quiot, Cebu City, at past 8 a.m. on Monday.

Romarate said at least 20 households near the landslide site were in danger and have to be relocated.

Underground river

In Puerto Princesa City, heavy rains dumped by a low pressure area spotted north of the city have forced the city government to temporarily close its main tourist attraction, the underground river, on Monday.

Beth Maclang, superintendent of St. Paul Subterranean River National Park, said the heavy outflow of water coming out of the river’s small opening had made it dangerous for the paddle boats used to ferry tourists visiting the natural attraction.

“We have to close the underground river to tourists today as a precautionary measure,” Maclang said, noting that the swirling waters flowing out of the river were “too risky” for visitors.

The local weather bureau said they have been monitoring the low pressure area, which was tracked some 150 kilometers north of the city.

The PCG has issued a safety alert to all sea-based transport facilities in the province. Williamor Magbanua and Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao; with reports from Charlie Señase and Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao; Nestor Burgos Jr. and Jhunnex Napallacan, Inquirer Visayas; and Redempto Anda, Inquirer Southern Luzon


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