Floods send remains of dead floating in Sultan Kudarat town
ISULAN, Sultan Kudarat, Philippines — Families and religious leaders reburied the bodies and skeletal remains of their dead after rampaging water brought about by days of heavy rains here destroyed a Muslim cemetery in the town of Bagumbayan in Sultan Kudarat province and sent the bodies floating downstream on Thursday.
At least 10 bodies were still missing and could not be found as of Sunday, said Datu Motalib Dudin, whose family owns the Muslim cemetery in Barangay Biwang, Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat.
Residents and rescue workers recovered 32 bodies and human bones near the Allah River after it overflowed and destroyed a private cemetery in Barangay Biwang, Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat, on Thursday afternoon, according to Harry John Hurtada, chief of operations of the Bagumbayan Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO).
Dudin said a total of 42 bodies were first reported missing from the graveyard. “We are still searching for the other bodies that were carried downstream along the Allah River,” Hurtada said in a radio interview on Friday.
Torrential rains on Wednesday and Thursday caused the Allah River to overflow, submerging communities along its banks in Bagumbayan and the neighboring Isulan town of Sultan Kudarat.
Allah River, which emanates from Lake Holon on Mt. Parker in the towns of T’boli and Lake Sebu in South Cotabato province, flows through the Allah Valley passing through the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao on its way to the Liguasan marshland. Its tributaries include the Kapingkong River and the Ga-o River before it empties into the Maguindanao marshland.
The river is partially controlled by the Allah River Irrigation Project that provides water for vast rice fields in adjoining provinces.
Hurtada said some of the bodies that were carried by the flood were only buried recently while others had already been buried for so long that only their bones remained.
In consultation with Muslim religious leaders, rescuers from the municipal disaster office helped wrap the recovered remains with white cloth before burying them in an area not far from the original burial site.
Hurtada said the MDRRMO used drones to locate the other human remains downstream of Allah River.
Dudin, who owned the Muslim graveyard, appealed to residents downstream to help monitor the floating bodies.
Hurtada also said a major bridge across the Allah River in Bagumbayan had been temporarily off limits to heavy vehicles as it was partly damaged by the recent flood.
Bagumbayan Mayor Jonalette de Pedro said the town’s disaster team rescued 30 families on Thursday when the river overflowed and inundated several low-lying communities in Barangay Biwang, displacing at least 400 residents who temporarily took refuge at the town’s covered court.
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