30 tourists, guides rescued after being trapped in Sagada cave
MANILA, Philippines — Heavy rain since Saturday flooded towns in several provinces in central and northern Luzon, prompting authorities to evacuate people, especially those living along waterways.
In Ilocos Sur province, the local councils of Candon City and the towns of Santa Maria and Narvacan placed their areas under a state of calamity on Monday due to heavy flooding.
Flooding was also reported in the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, Zambales and Pangasinan. A man drowned in a river in Lubao town in Pampanga.
Due to the heavy rain and floods on Monday, Malacañang suspended classes and work in government offices in all levels in Pangasinan, Benguet, Bataan, Zambales, Tarlac, Pampanga and Bulacan.
In Mt. Province, rescue workers on Monday began search operations for a woman from Pangasinan, after they pulled out 30 tourists and guides who were trapped by rising underground water inside the popular Sumaguing Cave in Sagada, Mt. Province, police said.
The tourists, including 13 Japanese, have been huddled inside this cave since Sunday as strong rain battered parts of the Cordillera region.
The Cordillera police said Irene Manaois, a visitor from Pangasinan, remained missing as of Monday noon. Manaois’ companions told rescuers they saw her being swept away by strong current inside the cave.
Thirteen Japanese were among the people rescued from the cave, a popular tourist destination there. Also rescued were five residents of Metro Manila, two from Pampanga, two from Natonin town also in Mt. Province and eight local tourist guides, police said.
Four of those rescued were confined at the St. Theodore Hospital in Sagada: Vilma Pusao and Aiza Lifano of Natonin, and Jun Bendiola and an unidentified resident of Metro Manila.
The Japanese tourists were examined at the hospital, but had been discharged. Police said the following have returned to their hotels: Atsushi Ito, 30; Yoshitaka Onoe, 23; Saika Furukawa, 21; Sakuda Hikaru, 28; Mutsimi Sato, 30; Koichi Sato, 33; Takuto Horita, 28; Ayumi Shimamura, 25; Keitaro Yuda, 35; Sayori Shirai, 23; Yuka Morita, 31; Yuka Nakamura, 32; and Naomi Yusakawa, 30.
Police said the Filipino tourists also returned to their hotels. They are Nemoza Magsino, 23, and Jahnina Pamintuan, 20, of Pampanga; Mark Joseph de los Santos Santos, 24, of Pasig City; Jeffry Alex, 21, of Makati City; Oliver Alejandro, 25, of Taguig City; and May Palatao, 24, of Manila.
In Ilocos Sur, officials of Candon City and the towns of Santa Maria and Narvacan placed their areas under a state of calamity on Monday due to flooding, having suffered the worst of the enhanced monsoon rains.
In Candon, 61 families were taken to the Candon Civic Center on Sunday night, while 1,377 families in 11 barangays were given relief goods. Candon Mayor Ericson Singson said the city government was determining the extent of damage.
Flooding had been traced to water flowing from upland areas in the eastern section of the city.
In Narvacan town, relief goods were distributed to 700 families.
Sections of the national highway linking Candon, Sta. Maria and Narvacan were flooded on Sunday.
Authorities earlier reported a fatality in Apayao on Sunday due to the monsoon.
But the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in the Cordillera said Franco Cawayan died in a traffic accident and was not a casualty of the strong rain because the weather condition in Apayao was relatively calm compared to Benguet and Mt. Province.
Cawayan died while nine other passengers of a jeepney were hurt in the accident in Barangay Lenneng in Conner, Apayao. Details of the accident were not released, although the OCD said the jeepney was carrying 50 passengers at the time.
Classes in pre-school, elementary, high school and college in the Ilocos region and some provinces in the Cordillera were suspended.
In Baguio City, however, confusion arose when Mayor Mauricio Domogan announced that only classes in preschool and elementary were suspended despite an announcement from Malacañang that all work and classes were suspended in Benguet province.
Without any storm signal, Domogan said he followed protocol because the strong rain since Saturday had eased by Monday morning.
Baguio is a chartered city and is independent from Benguet, whose governor, Nestor Fongwan, had suspended Monday work and classes as early as Sunday night, Domogan said.
In Pangasinan province, Gov. Amado Espino Jr. also canceled classes in all levels and suspended work in government in the province early Monday morning.
At least 14 villages in four Pangasinan towns were flooded due to heavy rain on Monday.
Reports from the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council (PDRRMC) said 20 families were evacuated from three villages in the towns of Calasiao and Bugallon.
The flooded villages are San Vicente, Lasip, Talibaew and Poblacion East in Calasiao town, Cayanga, Portic, Bañaga and Cabayaoasan in Bugallon town, Pampano in Mangatarem and Alibago, Dalongue, Sonquil, Tebag East and Tuliao in Sta. Barbara town.
The villages in Calasiao and Sta. Barbara towns lie along the swollen Sinocalan and Marusay Rivers, while the villages in Mangatarem and Bugallon towns are along the Agno River.
In Dagupan City, Ronald de Guzman, spokesperson of the city disaster risk reduction and management council, said 15 villages were submerged up to 1.5 feet of floodwater.
These villages are along the Pantal River, which swelled early Monday morning due to high tide that reached 1.35 meters at 7:40 a.m.
The Agno River Basin Flood Forecasting and Warning Center in Rosales town said in a bulletin that it had recorded 175 millimeters of rain in the last three days and asked residents in low lying areas traversed by various river systems in the province to be on alert for floods.
As of 11 a.m. Monday, water level at the San Roque Dam in San Manuel town was 259.62 meters above sea level (masl), which was 20.38 meters below its spilling level of 280 masl.
Avenix Arenas, PDRRMC spokesperson, said as of 6 a.m. Monday, the Ambuklao Dam had five spillway gates open with a total height of 7.6 meters. The Binga Dam had likewise opened all its six spillway gates at 9.5 meters.
Both dams are in Benguet province, upstream of the Agno River. Water spilled from the two dams flows into the San Roque Dam.
Arenas said all roads in the province were passable to all types of vehicles on Monday.
Villagers along Sinocalan River in Sta. Barbara town helped put up more sandbags to fortify the dikes, said resident Joel Balolong.
Water breached the old earth dikes and only a few inches remain before water reaches the new dikes that serve as roads, according to Balolong.
A breach means most of the villages of Sta Barbara and neighboring Calasiao town would be flooded, he said.
In Pampanga, Renato Lacsamana, 64, a former village watchman in Lubao town, drowned on Monday morning as he went out to check the water level at the Porac-Gumain River in Barangay Sta. Cruz, the Pampanga PDRRMC said.
Angelina Blanco, PDRRMC executive officer, said at least 104 of 507 villages in the province were submerged in a foot to three feet of floodwater due to a combination of heavy rain and high tide.
In Guagua town, two portions of the earth dike in Barangay San Jose breached by 10 meters and six meters. Residents hurried with sandbagging.
Guagua Mayor Dante Torres said the local government evacuated 16 families from Purok Dalisdis in Barangay Ascomo on Sunday night to put them to safety from the risk of the breaching of an earth dike. The dike breached on Monday morning.
The San Fernando-Sto. Tomas-Minalin Tail Dike was less than a meter to spilling level at 1 p.m. Monday, threatening to flood fishponds and thousands of houses near it.
The Bankers Association of the City of San Fernando suspended work in banks by Monday noon due to heavy rain in the city.
In Angeles City, the city disaster risk reduction and management office and the police tried to evacuate some 40 families living along the Abacan River in Ninoy Aquino village at 1:30 a.m. Monday but the residents refused to leave their houses. Five houses along the river were washed out due to soil erosion.
In Zambales province, residents of at least nine villages in Sta. Cruz town started leaving their homes on Monday due to the threat of flooding from overflowing waterways and damaged sabo dams (a type of dam that prevents debris flows) in the town.
In Bulacan province, floodwater that rose from a foot to four feet submerged villages in the towns of Marilao, Hagonoy, Bocaue, Bulakan, Obando and Calumpit and Meycauayan City.
Some sections of the MacArthur Highway in these areas were impassable to light vehicles on Monday, reports from the PDRRMC showed.
At least 11 families in Barangay Calvario and 20 from Barangay Saluysoy in Meycauayan City were evacuated after floodwater there rose to four feet.
Water release at the Bustos Dam at 2 p.m. was reduced to 96.88 cubic meters per second (cms) after the water level reached 17.50 masl, below its 17.70 masl spilling level. On Sunday, the dam was releasing water at a rate of 195 cms.
Ipo Dam’s water level on Monday was 100.20 masl, still below its spilling level of 101 masl. Water release from the Ipo Dam was reduced to 36.9 cms, down from the 127.60 cms on Sunday.
The PDRRMC said the water releases had minimal impact on the swelling of rivers on Norzagaray, Angat, Bustos, San Rafael, Baliwag, Pulilan, Plaridel, Calumpit, Paombong and Hagonoy towns.
Water level at Angat Dam was 194.01 masl, still below its 210 masl spilling level.
In Nueva Ecija province, water level at Pantabangan Dam was 190.49 masl, still below its 221 masl spilling level. Reports from Tonette Orejas, Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Anselmo Roque, Jun Malig, Armand Galang and Cesar Villa, Inquirer Central Luzon, and Gabriel Cardinoza, Yolanda Sotelo, Kimberlie Quitasol, Leoncio Balbin Jr. and Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon