Lightning strike kills 2 soldiers as rains hit Cordillera amid El Niño

Lightning strike kills 2 soldiers as rains hit Cordillera amid El Niño

/ 04:35 AM May 15, 2024

Lighting strike kills 2 soldiers as rains hit Cordillera amid El Niño

DOWNPOUR Heavy rains fall on Baguio City on Tuesday, giving relief to the city’s pine trees and forest patches. —Neil Clark Ongchangco

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Although the El Niño weather phenomenon still persists, a week of thunderstorms dumped rain in this city and other parts of the Cordillera, triggering incidents of soil erosion and inducing lightning that killed two soldiers who were out on patrol on Sunday.

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) has been issuing localized thunderstorm advisories since May 6 to alert various towns in the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao, Abra and Mountain Province.


Strong rains also fell in Baguio on Tuesday due to the easterlies, or prevailing trade winds, that blow from east to west in the equatorial region.


READ: Overcast skies, rain expected over parts of extreme northern Luzon

The weather bureau said most of the country will still endure strong El Niño heat.

On Monday, minor soil erosion briefly obstructed traffic through the Baguio-Bontoc Road along Mountain Province, according to government media, but the main artery accessed by vegetable truckers was opened immediately.

In Kalinga province, a lightning storm near the boundaries of the towns of Pasil and Lubuagan killed Army Cpl. Andrew Five Monterubio and Army Pvt. Inmongog Aronchay, according to the Tabuk City public information office (PIO).

Lightning also struck four members of their unit from the 54th Infantry Battalion. Sgt. Dennis Bananao, PFC Melvin Danggalan, Pvt. Abegil Awingan and Pvt. Riel Angya were in stable condition after being rushed to the Kalinga District Hospital, and then transferred to the 5th Infantry Division Station Hospital, the Tabuk PIO said.

The Army soldiers were pursuing suspected New People’s Army rebels reportedly roaming along the boundaries of Western Uma in Lubuagan town and Balatoc in Pasil town, both in Kalinga, when they were struck by lightning amid intense rain, said Army Maj. Rigor Pamittan, spokesperson for the military’s 5th Infantry Division.


Army Maj. Gen. Audrey Pasia, commander of the 5th Infantry Division, and fellow soldiers extended their sympathies to the families of the fatalities.

“You fought a good fight, our brothers. May you rest in peace,” Pasia said.


In Baguio City, Mayor Benjamin Magalong mobilized last week the cleanup crew and volunteers from the police and the local fire station to clear drains and reinforce mountainside settlements, which are vulnerable to erosion.

Albert Mogul, OCD Cordillera director, said he has activated Operational Plan La Niña, and local disaster risk reduction and management councils have drawn up their own response plans, giving a 62-percent chance that stronger monsoon rains would develop between July and August once the El Niño drought ends.

La Niña, which has the opposite effect of El Niño, is characterized by heavy rains that trigger floods an other rain-induced calamities.

“The Cordillera territory is prone to landslides, so after El Niño, we are getting ready for La Niña [to fast-track the] action of municipalities to ensure that the response time of our municipalities would be swift,” Mogul said at the May 8 session of the House Committee on North Luzon Quadrangles, which has been evaluating the budgetary plans of the Department of National Defense (DND) in northern Luzon.

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OCD is an attached agency of the DND. —with a report from Villamor Visaya Jr.

TAGS: Cordillera, Kalinga, lightning storm, OCD, thunderstorms

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