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5 killed, 17,000 displaced by Zamboanga flooding

06:23 PM October 09, 2013

Contributed Photo by Sarah Lizette

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines— While Zamboanga City has barely moved on from the fighting between government troops and Moro National Liberation Front last month, deaths from the incessant heavy rains spawned by the intertropical convergence zone in the city for the past few days rose to five on Wednesday.

More than 17,000 others displaced when floods caused by continuous heavy rain swept through the city and outlying villages during the past week, the authorities said.

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Although much of the floods have receded, some places remain under water as the rains have continued.

ITCZ brings heavy rains

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Maribel Enriquez, chief of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration station in Zamboanga City, said the Intertropical Convergence Zone was causing all the rain.

“It’s been there hovering and it is the reason why we have long hours of rain since last week, making our soil saturated with water,” Enriquez said.

“When our soil is saturated with water, definitely, we are going to experience flooding and landslide,” she added.

The five-day incessant rains with occasional strong winds battered the city since Friday last week inundated 6.47 hectares of farmlands and fishponds.

Damage to crops was estimated to cost P57.9 million.

Sheila Covarrubias, the city’s information officer, said records of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center show that a total of 25 barangays, or city districts and villages, were flooded, affecting 4,802 families or 17,026 individuals.

Five persons were reported to have drowned in the villages of Tugbungan, San Roque, San Jose Gusu and Putik.

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Chief Insp. Ariel Huesca, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Regional Police Office, identified two of those killed as Edwina Flores, 58, and her helper Rosanna Fabella, both residents of San Roque.

Sudden rush of water

“The victims were trying to get out of their house when a sudden rush of water hit the gate of Flores’ residence at an overwhelming rate. They were caught in a whirlpool and got flushed out,” Huesca said.

Adriano Fuego, chief of the Office of Civil Defense here, said another person, Roel Patricinio, drowned in Barangay Tugbungan.

Those who drowned in the villages of San Jose Gusu and Putik remained unidentified.

Fuego said a landslide buried a section of the main road in Tungawan in Zamboanga Sibugay at around 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Another landslide struck Barangay Curuan in Zamboanga City, but no one was reported hurt.

The rains also prompted the local government to suspend classes on Wednesday.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in its morning update that there were 8,693 persons housed in shelters because of the rains.

Vicente Balan, officer in charge of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines in Zamboanga, said flights had to be cancelled because the runway was flooded. The airport flooding had receded by Wednesday, however.

“We are cleaning the runway. We have to clear runway so aircraft can land here,” Balan told the Inquirer by phone.

 Originally posted at 5:21 p.m.

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TAGS: Death Toll, floods, Regions, Weather, Zamboanga City
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