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‘Vinta’ death toll rises to at least 140

/ 07:24 AM December 24, 2017

Residents crosses the river using a wooden water raft Saturday, December 23, 2017 after the bridge was destroyed in Salvador town in Lanao del Norte, a day after a tropical storm hit Mindanao. Disaster officials reported the death toll in Mindanao from floods and slides spawned by Severe Typhoon VintaÊ(international name Tembin) had risen to over 100.
PHOTO BY JEOFFREY MAITEM

Unheeded warnings to evacuate cost the lives of people living along riverbanks, coastlines and other danger zones when Tropical Storm “Vinta” (international name: Tembin) pummeled Mindanao on Thursday and Friday.

Mudslides swallowed homes and swollen rivers swept away dwellings, killing more than 140 people as Vinta dumped heavy rains on the island.

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One mountain village was obliterated, buried in mudslides.

“We’ve repeatedly pleaded with villagers near coastlines and riverbanks to evacuate but they refused,” said Vice Mayor Jesus Lim of Salug town in Zamboanga del Norte, where seven people died and seven others went missing due to flooding that destroyed 40 houses.

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No one died in Cagayan de Oro City, where hundreds perished from flash floods in 2011, because residents heeded the order to evacuate when Vinta made landfall on Thursday, Mayor Oscar Moreno said on Friday.

62 killed in Lanao del Norte

In Lanao del Norte, 62 people died in the floods, according to the authorities.

In Salvador, an official said 41 people had been confirmed dead in the flash floods that hit the town’s 15 villages on Friday.

As of 3 p.m. on Saturday, only 23 bodies had been recovered as rains were starting to pour anew, said Rodel Maghinay, head of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO).

Maghinay said six of the fatalities were residents of Barangay Tugaya, which is adjacent to the village of Dalama in Tubod town.

“Most of the dead were Muslims and their bodies were immediately buried by their relatives,” he said.

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Survivor’s tale

In Tubod, eight people had been confirmed killed while 20 others had remained missing as of Saturday, said Vicmar Paloma, head of the MDRRMO.

The rain was not heavy that day, but two people who lived near the Cabuyao River, heard a roar and saw water breaching the banks.

“It was so fast. It didn’t even take five minutes,” Maryjane Dulag, 34, described what happened at 10 a.m. on Friday, hours after Vinta made landfall in Davao Oriental.

Huge logs, boulders

“I told them to run away,” said Danilo, referring to his wife Maryjane and their four children.

“I saw the rampaging river, and the huge logs and boulders being carried away. I saw the rumbling current rushing toward me. It was a good thing that I still managed to run,” said Danilo, who lived in the area the past 16 years but never saw something similar before.

He said the creek used to be 200 meters wide, but the rampaging water wiped out the entire “purok” (area) in Barangay Dalama where his family lived and turned the entire village into a waterway.

Danilo said the whole family managed to run 2 kilometers away from their house to escape the flood.

On Saturday, they went back to the house to find things they could save. The house, its walls torn off, was lying on its side.

Danilo said the logs and big rocks carried by the water could have come down from Mt. Pana, a relatively forested area.

Stump of chapel

Most of the houses in the neighborhood were gone, and only a concrete stump remained of the chapel, which had shielded their house from the rampaging water.

A total of 105 houses were destroyed and 94 families were displaced in Barangay Dalama.

A military report said 11 other people died at the town of Munai, also in Lanao del Norte.

The provincial board has declared a state of calamity in the whole province.

Two people were confirmed dead in Iligan City. One was hit by falling coconut trees while monitoring the water level of Abuno River.

Zamboanga del Norte

In Zamboanga del Norte, 30 people died when floods hit the village of Anongan, a fishing community at Sibuco town, on Friday evening, said Senior Supt. Raul Tacaca, the provincial police director.

“More people are reported missing,” Tacaca said.

Sibuco Mayor Bong Edding said “the floodwaters from the mountain came down so fast and swept away people and houses.”

Years of logging

The mayor blamed years of logging in the mountain near Anungan for the tragedy that unfolded on Friday, adding he and other officials would move to halt the logging operations.

Tacaca said nine reportedly died and 28 were missing in Gutalac town.

Four houses were destroyed along the rivers at Barangay
Cocob and at Barangay Salvador. Some 75 families have been displaced.

Lanao del Sur

In Lanao del Sur, 18 people were confirmed dead from floods and landslides, said Zia Adiong, spokesperson of the Lanao del Sur crisis management team.

But the Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team (HEART) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) reported a higher figure.

Laisa Alamia, head of HEART, said 21 people died in Lanao del Sur.

Adiong said Piagapo town recorded 10 deaths, followed by Madalum with four, and Balingong, two. Tugaya and Tamparan each had one death.

State of calamity

The provincial government of Lanao del Sur has declared a state of calamity in the entire province, including Marawi City.

Adiong blamed the swollen Lake Lanao as one of the causes of the floods.

At Monkayo, Compostela Valley, a 78-year-old woman suffering from paralysis was reported missing following a landslide at the gold-rich Mt. Diwalwal village.

In Southern Mindanao, only one death was reported. A person died at the height of the floods at Barangay Ma-a in Davao City.

Officials said preemptive evacuations implemented in the region had worked and minimized casualties and damage.

Power outages were reported in parts of Misamis Oriental, Lanao del Norte, Bukidnon, Lanao del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur, while a water shortage was reported in Cagayan de Oro.

Vinta is expected to leave the country today. —WITH REPORTS FROM JULIE ALIPALA, DIVINA SUSON, RICHEL UMEL, FRINSTON LIM, JIGGER J. JERUSALEM AND JUDY QUIROS IN MINDANAO; JAYMEE T. GAMIL AND JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE IN MANILA; AND AP

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