South Cotabato floods: 1 dead, more than 300 flee
KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato, Philippines — A man died while more than 300 others were displaced by flash floods and landslides in scenic Lake Sebu, the tourism capital of South Cotabato province, due to continuous rains spawned by a low pressure area (LPA) late Tuesday, disaster-response officials said on Wednesday.
Rosendo Ablito and his companion were on a motorcycle and crossing Sungan bridge past 5 p.m. Tuesday when they lost control and fell into floodwater that inundated the structure.
Ablito’s unidentified companion managed to hold on to a bamboo pole and was eventually rescued. Ablito was identified by a resident of Barangay Ned when his body was found at 6:15 a.m. Wednesday, only 800 meters from the bridge.
Lake Sebu Mayor Floro Gandam suspended classes in all levels in the town’s public and private schools on Wednesday to ensure the safety of teachers and students who might go to their schools for their class modules.
“This is the first time in Lake Sebu that people evacuated due to flooding. I was born and raised here. The floodwater was rampaging, bringing with it boulders and fallen trees,” the mayor said in a radio interview.
Rolly Doane Aquino, head of the South Cotabato Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), said his office had also monitored flooding and landslides in other towns because of heavy rains in the past several days. Several roads had been affected by the pockets of landslides and flooding in T’boli town, specifically in Barangay Laconon.
The Allah River also overflowed and submerged nearby farmlands and communities in Sto Niño town, he said.
Roberto Baggong, head of the Lake Sebu Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO), said at least three major rivers in the area overflowed past 4 p.m. Tuesday, affecting riverside communities.
He said landslides were also reported in several areas, including a portion of Barangay Poblacion.
Floodwaters swept parts of Barangays Lamlahak and Poblacion due to the swelling of the T’raan Kini and Low-el rivers. Five houses and two horses were swept away, he said.
“It was one of the strongest rains that we [experienced]. The rainfall volume was measured at 8.89 millimeters, which is considered extreme,” Baggong told the Inquirer in a phone interview.
The municipal government, through the MDRRMO, distributed food and other relief items to the evacuees at the municipal evacuation center and the barangay gymnasiums of Lamlahak and Poblacion.
Chris Ofong, municipal information officer, said the MDRRMO reported that 79 families, or at least 383 people, had sought refuge in different evacuation sites to stay safe for the night.
In Surallah town, MDRRO chief Leonardo Ballon said the approach of a Veterans-Maculan Bridge connecting Surallah with Lake Sebu was damaged while a dam that was still being repaired by the National Irrigation Administration at the Tubi-Allah Bridge had been destroyed by floodwaters.
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