2 missing as Cordillera rivers swell under heavy rains
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Two persons were reported missing in two Cordillera provinces due to the strong monsoon rain enhanced by Tropical Depression “Maring” since Friday.
The rain also put six low-lying villages in Dagupan City underwater on Sunday, according to police and disaster response teams.
Jojo Valera, Cordillera operations chief of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), said rescue workers have been searching for a student swept away by a strong current at Chico River in Sitio Pampang, Samoki village in Natonin town, Mt. Province, on Sunday noon, citing a report from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC).
Valera said the OCD also received a report from Abra province about a man also swept away by a swollen river that he tried to cross in Barangay Amtuagan in Tubo town.
He said 34 families living near a river in San Isidro town, also in Abra, were evacuated as a precaution because of the heavy rain.
Efren Dalipog, weather specialist of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration in Baguio City, said 115.5 millimeters of rain fell on the summer capital on Saturday, which was within the average of rainfall received by the city during the rainy season.
Dalipog said 34.8 millimeters of rain fell from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.
At press time, only Kennon Road had been closed to traffic due to a small rockslide along Barangay (village) Camp 6. All major roads leading to Baguio and into the Cordillera were open on Sunday, but visibility was poor due to heavy fog.
While rain poured, Baguio firefighters and volunteer fire brigades fought a blaze that hit the University of Baguio (UB) Preparatory High School building before noon, said Insp. Viyo Hidalgo, Baguio police spokesperson. The fire broke out at 11:50 a.m. and was contained at 1:25 p.m., he said.
Two persons—Freddie Chatoy, 17, and UB arnis coach Ceasar Badekaw—were treated for minor burns.
In Pangasinan, Ronald de Guzman, spokesperson of the Dagupan City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said parts of the villages of Pantal, Herrero-Perez, Tapuac, Poblacion Oeste, Malued and Barangay 1 have been submerged by waters up to a foot deep. These villages are near rivers.
He said a high tide that rose to a meter at 6 a.m. on Sunday contributed to the flooding.
The Pangasinan PDRRMC said it was closely watching the situation in the province because of the rain.
“But so far, we have not received reports of flooding or any other weather-related situations,” said Avenix Arenas, PDRRMC spokesperson.
She said some roads in low-lying towns have been covered by surface runoff water, but these remain passable to all types of vehicles.
She said Ambuklao Dam in Benguet province has been releasing excess water since Saturday night.
In a text message, Tom Valdez, vice president for corporate social responsibility of the San Roque Power Corp., said Ambuklao Dam had four spillway gates open at 3.5 meters high as of Sunday noon.
Its water elevation was 750.26 meters above sea level, which is 1.74 meters from its maximum level of 752 masl.
Water inflow was recorded at 287 cubic meters per second and it was releasing water at 501 cms.
This prompted operators of the Binga hydroelectric dam, which is downstream of Ambuklao, to open three more spillway gates. A gate of the dam has been releasing water since Aug. 14. Both Benguet dams are operated by the SN Aboitiz Power.
Valdez said Binga’s water elevation reached 573.85 masl on Sunday noon, which is 1.15 meters below its maximum level of 575 masl. Water was flowing into the dam at 602 cms while it was spilling water at 562 cms.
Water releases from Binga flow to San Roque Dam in San Manuel, Pangasinan. At 6 a.m. on Sunday, the dam’s water elevation was at 251.01 masl, which is 28.99 meters from its spilling level of 280 masl. Reports filed by Gabriel Cardinoza, Kimberlie Quitasol, Richard Balonglong and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon