Search on; evacuees still in centers
Rescue teams in various parts of Luzon are scouring coastal waters and rivers for at least 17 persons still missing and feared to have been swept away by strong currents unleashed by Tropical Depression “Falcon.”
The heavy rains have let up but tens of thousands of people remain in evacuation centers as floodwaters linger in low-lying villages, disaster coordinating officials said.
In the Cordillera, reports from the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said rescue teams and volunteers started scouring the Chico River in Sadanga, Mt. Province, for Vicente Yossayos, 57, a resident of Barangay Poblacion, who was feared to have been swept away by a strong current on Saturday noon.
The OCD in Central Luzon placed two persons on its list of missing—Fedelito Muaña Jr., 14, of Olongapo City, and Glen Villarmino, 22 of Marilao, Bulacan.
In southern Luzon, four fishermen reported missing since Thursday in the town of Jose Panganiban in Camarines Norte were found alive on Saturday on an islet off the neighboring town of Paracale but 14 others are still missing.
Rescue teams are looking for three other fishermen in Vinzons, Camarines Sur, nine fishermen in Catanduanes, a woman in Ligao City and a 3-year-old child in Golden City Subdivision in Sta Rosa, Laguna.
Villages still flooded
Evacuations were still ongoing on Sunday in Pangasinan. Flash floods forced residents of three villages in Aguilar, four in Bugallon, four in Alaminos City and one in Mabini town out of their homes, according to the provincial disaster council.
In Central Luzon, the strong rains eased on Sunday but left 251 villages in Zambales, Pampanga, Bulacan, Bataan and Cabanatuan City flooded, OCD reports said.
Officials declared Dinalupihan in Bataan and the City of Meycauayan in Bulacan under a state of calamity due to heavy flooding.
The OCD said the floods affected 76,337 families or 349,307 people, with the number of evacuees rising to 34,005, at least 29,006 of them from Bulacan.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development counted 7,300 families in evacuation centers in the National Capital Region, 6,000 in Region III, 3,000 in Region IV and 100 in Region V.
The Bulacan evacuees from 16 of 21 affected towns and three cities began returning to their homes Sunday as floodwaters started to recede.
Damage to roads, dikes
Some dikes were reported damaged and several major highways were made impassable by floods or landslides.
In Zambales, strong currents destroyed a portion of the Lawin-Vega dike in San Marcelino, the Cabalo spillway in San Antonio and Maculcul-Sukit dike in San Felipe, the regional OCD said.
Men and boys spent Sunday fishing in flooded section of the Jose Abad Santos Avenue (formerly Gapan-San Fernando-Olongapo road) in Lubao and Guagua towns. The fish had escaped from flooded ponds in the towns.
In Benguet, mud and rock slides blocked five key routes—the Guiset section of the Benguet-Vizcaya Road, the Onkalaw and Payket sections of the Itogon-Dalupirip Road, Bugaw section of the Gurel-Bokod-Kabayan Road, Alapang section of the Kabayan-Buguias-Abatan Road, and the Shilan-Beckel Road.
The Tue section of the road linking Mt. Province and Ilocos Sur was also rendered impassable due to slides.
Traffic has only one lane to negotiate when crossing from Benguet to Bontoc, Mt. Province, via the Halsema Highway. Motorists also have access to only one lane of the Abra-Kalinga Road.
As of Sunday, only trucks were allowed to travel through the Klondyke section of Kennon Road due to rock slides in Tuba, Benguet. The OCD advised smaller vehicles to take Marcos Highway on their way to Baguio City or Metro Manila.
Cotabato flood update
Meanwhile, in Cotabato, flooding due to the clogging of the Rio Grande was reported to be easing.
“Good news, the water level has receded, said Sam Mundas of the Cotabato City disaster unit on Sunday. He said the water hyacinths that had clogged the Rio Grande, causing it to overflow, had been cleared from the downstream channel of the river. But water plants continued to come down from upstream.
Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said there were around 8,400 families still temporarily sheltered in evacuation centers there. She appealed to local officials to set aside politics to get the relief work done.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on Sunday launched a relief drive for Cotabato. Those who wish to help can contract CBCP-Nassa program officers Ma. Cynthia S. Perez or Pinky Lanzar at (632)5274147.
The Pharmaceutical and Health Care Association of the Philippines donated P1 million worth of essential medicines. Inquirer staff and bureau reports
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