Parents die in Cebu rockfall-A A +A
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
CEBU CITY – Heavy rains dislodged a boulder that then fell in a mountainous barangay in the City of Naga, killing a couple in front of four of their children.
Dionisio Vilarmia, 42, and his wife, Julieta, 47, were resting at home with their four youngest children on the boundary of Barangays Cantao-an and Inayagan in the City of Naga when the boulder fell on their hut.
The accident that killed Dionisio, a motorcycle driver, and Julieta, a vegetable vendor, occurred at 6:30 p.m. last Tuesday.
Rains since the weekend have also caused landslides in Talisay City and Mandaue, as well as widespread flooding last Tuesday afternoon.
Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, who visited Naga for the city’s fifth Charter Day celebration, learned of the couple’s death. She immediately ordered Provincial Social Welfare Officer Marivic Garces to offer burial assistance and other aid to the couple’s children.
Naga City Mayor Valdemar Chiong, in a separate interview, told reporters he has ordered the city’s social welfare office to help the couple’s family.
He will also request the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to inspect the area for hazards.
The boulder pinned down the Vilarmia couple and made orphans of their seven children, four of whom witnessed the accident.
Maricel, 11, told reporters on Wednesday that just before the accident happened, she was cooking in their kitchen, while her parents and siblings were resting.
She suddenly heard a loud noise from outside their house, which prompted her to wake her father. But Dionisio reportedly didn’t heed his daughter’s call, while his wife asked what the commotion was.
It was at that moment that the boulder suddenly fell on their home.
The crash woke up Rommel, 13, who immediately rescued his two younger siblings by dragging them away from the boulder’s path.
Maricel dashed toward the house of an uncle, about two kilometers away from home.
Meanwhile, Rommel left his two younger siblings and proceeded toward their house in Barangay Cantao-an to ask for help from older siblings.
Nazaria Vilarmia-Caballa, 20, the couple’s second eldest daughter, told Sun.Star Cebu on Wednesday that she was in her house in Barangay Cantao-an when her younger brother suddenly came in and asked for her help.
She and an elder sister immediately sought help from the barangay and the police.
The couple was immediately brought to the Minglanilla District Hospital but they were declared dead on arrival.
The four surviving children are currently in the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Naga City for stress debriefing.
Caballa revealed that the hut where her parents were killed was meant as a shed that would help secure their goats, chickens and cattle.
Dionisio’s elder brother, Graciano, told Sun.Star Cebu on Wednesday that before the accident, he had warned his brother and sister-in-law to move their livestock to another area, because their hut was repeatedly hit by rolling boulders over the past months.
At least twice before, Dionisio’s hut was struck by two boulders. They were not at home the first time; the second time, a beam stopped a boulder from crushing them.
Graciano also commented that Dionisio had constructed his hut at the foot of a property cleared by “kaingin” or slash-and-burn clearing.
Without any vegetation that could shield it, plus huge rocks overhead, his brother’s hut was often a clear target for rockslides, said Graciano. Heavy rains in recent days loosened the soil.
Social workers from Naga City’s Social Welfare Development Office went to the site of the accident to check on the condition of the children. All four children will undergo stress debriefing and counseling, social workers said.
The family will also receive financial assistance from the City Government.
The MGB-Central Visayas has issued a landslide threat advisory for Barangay Cantaw-an, Naga City following an inspection of the area on Wednesday afternoon.
It also issued an advisory calling on people to be vigilant and for local officials to review the geohazard maps prepared for their areas.
Senior Science Research Specialist Abraham Lucero inspected the area following the rockslide.
MGB Regional Director Loreto Alburo said the landslide may be attributed to a combination of several factors such as heavy rainfall, the type of soil, very steep slopes and the earthquake that hit some parts of Cebu last Friday.
The MGB reported that the geohazard assessment conducted in August last year showed that Sitios Pangpang, Tayad-Tayad and Balico in Cantaw-an have a “very high” susceptibility to landslide.
The same assessment also revealed that Sitios Proper Cantaw-an, Township, and Riverside have a high level of landslide susceptibility.
A copy of the geohazard assessment was given to the barangay in September last year, which indicated the landslide susceptibility rating and a landslide advisory letter.
The copy was received by a certain Cerila Abes, a barangay official.
In a press statement issued on Wednesday, Alburo said that Lucero will conduct an investigation on last Tuesday’s landslide.
“We should be prepared and vigilant at all times as we don’t know when heavy rains will occur, especially those communities or residents who are living near or at the foot of the mountain areas, since many geohazards are water-induced,” said Alburo.
“We are strongly urging our local chief executives, particularly the barangay captains, to revisit and restudy the landslide susceptibility rating and landslide advisory letter, which we issued so would will know where landslides or floods would likely occur within their respective area,” he added. (JKV/JRB/BAP/With OCP of Sun.Star Cebu)