5 dead as ‘Basyang’ triggers landslides in Surigao del Sur
Published: 1:21 p.m., Feb. 13, 2018 | Updated: 11:30 p.m., Feb. 13, 2018
BUTUAN CITY — Five people, three of them children, were killed, while three others were hurt and a still undetermined number went missing after landslides, triggered by heavy rain dumped by Tropical Storm “Basyang” (international name: Sanba), hit two villages in Carrascal town, Surigao del Sur province, on Tuesday.
The landslides struck the villages of Gamuton and Babuyan about four hours before Basyang made landfall in Cortes town at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday.
Liza Mazo, chief of the Officie of Civil Defense in Caraga, said three family members were killed in Barangay Gamuton, while two others were killed in Barangay Babuyan.
The OCD in Caraga identified the fatalities in Barangay Gamuton as Irene Lamela Benguilo, 25, and her children AJ, 6, and MJ, 3. Her husband James, 32, was injured.
The Carrascal disaster risk reduction and management office reported another landslide in Babuyan, which killed Jay Conjurado, 10.
The identities of the other persons who died were unavailable as of this writing.
Basyang, which weakened into a tropical depression as it hit land, traversed the Surigao provinces and Agusan del Norte, and was crossing Bohol Sea as of 2 p.m. Tuesday, according to a severe weather bulletin from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).
Basyang is expected to make its last landfall in Palawan on Wednesday as it moved northwest at 27 kilometers per hour. It is expected to bring scattered to widespread moderate to heavy rains over Palawan and the Visayas.
Scattered light to moderate with at times heavy rains is also expected over the Bicol region, Mindanao, and the rest of the Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) region. Pagasa warned of possible flooding and landslides in these areas.
Ariel Rojas, Pagasa weather forecaster, said Basyang weakened not only due to it hitting land, but also because it started interacting with cold winds from the northeast monsoon. The tropical cyclone is expected to pick up strength again once it hits the Sulu Sea on its way to Palawan.
Basyang is expected to exit the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) in the West Philippine Sea on Friday.
In Agusan del Norte province, strong river current washed away two footbridges in Barangay Mahayahay in Kitcharao town and damaged the Puyo Bridge in Jabonga town.
In Surigao City, the Quezon-Mapawa-Capalayan-Espina-Navarro Road was rendered impassable by soil erosion, according to a report from the Department of Public Works and Highway in Surigao del Norte.
Alexis Estampa, staff of community relations office of the Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp. in Claver town, said strong wind ripped off roofs of houses near the shoreline of Barangay Taganito.
Estampa said at least 496 people were evacuated by a joint rescue team from the mining company and the local government.
The Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) in Caraga region asked local governments to undertake preemptive and forced evacuation in areas and communities identified as high risk to flooding and landslide.
“Evacuation is better than rescue,” said Liza Mazo, OCD regional director.
Local governments in several Mindanao provinces suspended classes in all levels and ordered preemptive evacuations on Tuesday as Basyang was expected to trigger more rains as it moved westward.
Among areas where classes had been ordered suspended were the cities of Davao and Iligan, and the provinces of Davao Oriental, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Misamis Oriental and Zamboanga del Sur.
Government offices, however, remained open in Davao City on Tuesday while work suspension in the private sector was left to employers.
The military’s Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), which has jurisdiction over the Davao provinces, parts of Caraga region and central Mindanao, said soldiers were put on alert as early as Monday.
All military vehicles were also readied for evacuation operation, said Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., the Eastmincom commander, said.
In the two Lanao provinces severely hit by Severe Tropical Storm “Vinta” in December, classes were suspended and pre-evacuation planning carried out as early as Monday.
Classes were suspended in several provinces in Eastern, Western and Central Visayas on Tuesday due to heavy rains and strong winds. Passengers were also stranded in ports and bus terminals.
In Cebu, the city government declared a suspension of classes in all levels in both public and private schools. Work for all city government employees was also suspended until Tuesday noon.
Several passengers bound for Dumaguete City, Zamboanga City and Bacolod City were stranded at the Cebu South Bus Terminal, In Bohol, 251 people or 69 families were evacuated after water level started to rise in three villages of Candija town.
—Reports from Jaymee T. Gamil, Chris Panganiban, Erwin Mascariñas, Allan Nawal, Frinston Lim, Divina Suson, Richel Umel, Leah Agonoy, Morexette Erram, Benjie Talisic, Doris Mondragon, Nestle Semilla, Joey A. Gabieta, Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Carla P. Gomez and Leo Udtohan
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