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FREAK HAILSTORM

Ice chunks fall for first time in Cebu; whirlwind hits Pinamungahan village

Lumps of ice fell in rural villages of Pinamungahan town, western Cebu, accompanied by a whirlwind that destroyed at least 10 houses and damaged almost 200 others on Thursday.

The hailstorm was the first recorded in Cebu according to the weather bureau.

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Residents of barangay Lamac and Puntod were pummeled by strong wind and ice chips that fell from the sky for almost an hour past 12 noon.

The sudden shift in weather from a hot summer day to galeforce winds and hail stones caught residents by surprise, uprooting big trees and flippping nipa houses upside down.

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Juliet Dimol, 23, said she was washing clothes at home past noon in barangay Lamac, when she noticed a strong wind.

She said she went inside her cottage and closed the windows.

When the wind started to shake the nipa hut, she grabbed her 3-year-old son John Vic and hugged him tightly. A whirlwind was in full swing.

The young mother said she felt something hard hit her back.

“Wa ko kasabot sa nahitabo gyud, kalit ra. Taod-taod atop na diay sa among balay ang akong gitumban (I couldn’t understand what happened. It happened so fast. I found myself tripping on the roof of the house),” she said.

The strong wind had turned their house upside down and she was already standing on the tin roof.

The municipality of Pinamungahan declared a state of calamity in barangays Lamac and Punod in order to tap into emergency relief funds. ‘

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Damage in a third barangay of Sibago is still being assessed.

Lamac barangay captain Flores Cantero, whose new rest house was destroyed, said this was the first time the village experienced this kind of calamity.

She was talking to a barangay tanod when she noticed a sudden change of weather.

It was very sunny at about 11 a.m, she said, then dark clouds hovered past noon. Lightning exploded and strong wind blew from all directions.

“Suddenly it rained but we were shocked because it was raining ice,” she said.

The ice was the size of marbles, and entered the windows, she said. Bigger pieces fell on the ground around the barangay.

A big chunk of ice fell and made a hole in the roof of the home of one of the barangay councilors.

As the hailstorm continued, the sky turned dark and fog covered the area. Cantero said she could only hear the screams of frightened neighbors.

The entire occurrence lasted almost an hour. When the fog lifted, the extent of damage caused by the whirlwind and the hailstorm was visible.

Several large trees were uprooted, electric posts had fallen, and some water pipes were busted. The area lost electricity supply.

Among the 20 sitios of the barangay, sitio Luy-a was worst hit with the most houses destroyed and trees uprooted.

Ten people were treated for light injuries in nearby hospitals , mostly cuts from the impact of falling objects.

Affected families took refuge in homes of neighbors and relatives.

Lamac Barangay captain Maria Flores Cantero said at least 10 houses were destroyed and 60 others were partly damaged.

A count by the staff of 3rd district Rep. Pablo John Garcia recorded 88 damaged houses in Lamac and six in Punod.

In Lamac, a CDN news team observed fallen banana leaves and branches of fully grown mango trees piled up along the road.

Most of the ruined houses were made of light materials. Some full grown trees like buli (palm) fell on some houses.

Houses were damaged by fallen tree branches or had their roofs blown off.

Cantero’s nipa rest house located 20 meters from the road was lifted up by the strong wind . The cottage landed and crashed with several people still in it.

Cantero said local carpenters nearby who sheltered in the hut survived with bruises after landing on the road.

As of 5 p.m. yesterday, barangay Lamac already recorded 180 houses affected by the tragedy.

An initial batch of relief goods of rice, canned food and mats were sent by welfare office in the Capitol.

“No one saw it coming. We were unprepared,” said 57-year-old Angelisa Abadies in Lamac.

Abadies was at home when a thunderstorm broke.

She recalled that there was lightning and the rain poured hard.

“Mao diay nagpiti-piti kay ice na diay ang niigo (We thought our house was hit by something but then I’ve found out that it was small drops of ice that hit our roof),” she told CEBU DAILY NEWS.

She said ice lumps the size of a human thumb fell from the sky.

After that, she heard a strong wind coming.

“Kusog ang huros sa hangin. Dili ko makatukod sa kakusog… Nagdahunog (The wind was very strong. I couldn’t even lean on something It was very forceful),” she said.

Abadies said this lasted for about 10 to 20 minutes.

She later found her daughter’s nipa house was uprooted from the ground and thrown five meters away to the roadside along with a mango tree.

Abadies said she found her daughter, Juliet Dimol on the ground curled up in a ball with her 3-year-old son in her arms.

Although the boy was unharmed, but Abadies worried about her daughter who is three months pregnant.

The mother had body bruises and complained of the pain she felt during the land.

“Nalamba-lamba ug nagsakit iyang ginhawa… Nabunal ang iyang buko-buko (Her body slammed on the ground and she’s complaining of difficulty in breathing … She landed on her back),” Abadies said.

This was the first time this has happened in their 20 years stay in barangay Lamac, Pinamungahan town.

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TAGS: Disasters, Pinamungahan, Whirlwind
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