Acacia falls on truck, hurts 1

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Thursday, July 10, 2014


COMMUTERS endured heavy traffic for at least five hours after an acacia tree fell on a passing dump truck in Barangay Balud, San Fernando Wednesday afternoon.

One person was injured.

As of 9 p.m. Wednesday, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Bureau of Fire Protection and the local government of San Fernando were still chopping the huge trunk and branches so the tree could be cleared.

THIS FALL WAS DEFINITELY HEARD
CEBU. Police offi cers secure an area where an old acacia fell on a passing truck, dragging power lines and one electric post down with it in Barangay Balud, San Fernando. (Rey Campaña)

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It was believed to be more than a century old.

Barangays around the accident site were expected to be without electricity for around eight hours, after the tree also dragged a post down with it.

PO2 Jose Claire Palagtiosa of the San Fernando Police Station said the tree suddenly fell around 3:40 p.m. Thursday.

Truck driver Darwin Maldo was on the highway when the acacia tree fell on his truck and landed across the national road, blocking vehicles on both lanes.

His passenger Benjie Pobadora, who sat on the front passenger seat, suffered minor injuries in the head after one of the tree’s branches hit him. Both men work for a cement company and were bound for a quarry site in Barangay Balud when the accident happened.

The line of stuck vehicles, as a result of the fall, reached as far as the rotunda in Barangay Poblacion 3 in Carcar City, about 11 kilometers away from the site in San Fernando, for those heading south. Heavy traffic was also reported until Barangay Tuyan in the City of Naga, for those heading north.

It was old

At 8:30 p.m., a small portion of the road was cleared, allowing the vehicles to take turns in moving forward slowly.

The tree was about 20 feet high.

“Sa kakaraan na gyud siguro to mao nga natumba ang kahoy. Wala pud gauwan, init man (That tree must have been really old. It wasn’t raining; in fact, the sun was out),” said Palagtiosa in a phone interview.

Verne Lazarte, 24, was in a bus from Cebu City heading to Carcar City when he heard a crash in front of them.

“I was sleeping then I felt the driver suddenly stop and I heard a loud crash,” Lazarte told Sun.Star Cebu. He said they could not pass through the road because the tree blocked the entire road. The truck was pinned down. Luckily, it was not our bus that got hit by the tree,” he added.

Vehicles were rerouted to a barangay road but it was narrow and bumpy, and did little to ease the traffic.

“We took a detour on a small road so that we could pass to the next town, but the traffic was unbearable,” Lazarte said. At one point, he got down from the bus and decided to board a motorcycle.

Palagtiosa said that barangay tanods were dispatched to the area to guide the vehicles.

Commuters cope

Most travelers, like Lazarte, decided to cross the accident site on foot, then boarded other vehicles waiting on the other end.

Chopping the tree into pieces took time because of its girth. The chainsaw reportedly stalled at one point.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Central Visayas said the tree must have succumbed to a disease. Its trunk had been repeatedly pierced by nails.

“There are defective trees that can no longer stand a tree surgery procedure, like advanced stages of decay on its stem, with certain tree diseases brought about by piercing of nails for advertising materials,” said Eddie Llamedo, DENR 7 spokesperson, in a text message to Sun.Star Cebu.

Piercing is often blamed for tree deaths as this makes them vulnerable to pest and disease, he said.

Because of the accident, the DENR 7 is set to inspect acacia trees from the cities of Naga to Carcar so those that can still be saved will be treated. Those that are beyond surgery may have to be removed.

Treatment, power

Tree surgery includes various techniques, including crown reduction, crown trimming and pruning.

Llamedo said DENR has done the procedures among aging trees in Cebu City, particularly in Plaza Independencia and Fuente Osmeña Circle and those located in Carcar City.

If barangays in the cities of Naga and Carcar have century-old trees that may endanger lives and property, they can contact their local Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices to assist them, Llamedo said.

Meanwhile, the Visayan Electric Company (Veco) announced that with one of their main lines hit by the felled acacia tree, barangays near the area were expected to experience brownouts for eight hours.

Maria Theresa Sederiosa, Veco’s corporate communication manager, said that because of the accident, one of their electric poles will have to be replaced.

“The only assurance we could give is that our linemen are working on it overtime until they are able to restore power,” she said. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 10, 2014.

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