Boy drowns, girl missing in Leyte

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Thursday, December 29, 2011


A FIVE-YEAR-OLD boy was killed and a 12-year-old girl was reported missing while thousands of families remained in higher grounds as of Wednesday due to flooding that submerged nine towns and two cities in the province.

The Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) identified the casualty as Jassen Bacati of Barangay Los Martires, Dagami, Leyte. The victim drowned in a river on Tuesday.

Jassen Bacati, 5 years old, was drowned while his family was on their way out from their house in Barangay Los Martirez in Dagami town on Tuesday morning to escape the rampaging floodwaters that hit their village.

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Marcela Pagasartonga, administrator of the Leyte chapter of the Philippine National Red Cross, said the boy’s father, who was not identified by her, was holding the victim when the rampaging floodwater swept the boy away.

The dead body of the boy was recovered by the rescue groups composed of the local police and members of the Red Cross, more than 20 meters away from the house around 3 p.m. Tuesday.          

Meantime, April Jake Eyas, 12 years old and resident of Barangay Licud, Tanauan, also in Leyte, was reported missing after she was swept by the floodwaters.

The girl together with her companions, Raffy James Pedrosa, 13; Arvin Briton, 12; Fidel Palaña, 15 and Marjorie Arevalo, 12, went out to the sea for a swim in Barangay Santo Niño Tuesday around 11 a.m.

Rose Advincula, staff of the local disaster risk reduction management council of Tanauan, said due to the heavy rains and strong waves, the victim was swept away farther into the sea.

The four other children were rescued by the members of the Tanauan Rescue Team (Tart) on the same day of the incident. Eyas remains missing as of this posting.

“But three teams from the Tart were immediately dispatched to conduct a search and rescue operation to the missing child,” Advincula said.

“There are still some reported missing persons in Leyte but we still have to verify (the reports). Many families are still in evacuation centers but we expect that many will return to their homes today as floodwaters start to recede,” Epifanio Pabilona, office-in-charge of OCD regional office here, said Wednesday.

The local disaster and risk reduction and management councils reported that at least 3,642 families in Leyte were evacuated to safer grounds since Monday night due to rising floodwaters.

Of the 3,642 families; 1,081 of them were from the town of Javier; 820 from Dagami; 697 from Abuyog; 600 from Palo; 153 from Macarthur; 75 from Baybay City, 58 from Julita; 49 from Tolosa; 40 from Mayorga; and 25 from Sta. Fe.

“There are areas affected by flooding such as Tacloban City but there are no reports of evacuation,” Pabilona told Leyte Samar Daily Express in a telephone interview.

The local government of Julita reported to OCD that some P2.8 worth of infrastructure and farm products was damaged by flooding.

In a radio interview late Tuesday night, Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla said residents in low-lying areas have been told to evacuate since Monday morning but they did not leave their homes while the water level is still low.

“Warnings have been sent early and rescue teams and equipment have been deployed since Monday to ensure that there will be no casualty,” Petilla said.

The official observed this week’s flooding is less alarming than the March 2011 flooding that displaced nearly 30,000 families in the province and several deaths.

In Saint Bernard, Southern Leyte, site of a landslide that buried a village in 2006, some 74 families living in landslide-prone areas were brought to evacuation centers.

The low pressure area dumped a total of 200 milliliter of rainfall from Monday to Tuesday in Leyte and Southern Leyte, which was classified by the Department of Science and Technology as heavy.

OCD Regional Director Gozon, meanwhile, said he was sad that their aim of “zero casualty” during a disaster was not achieved.

“We’re sad about this. But then again, we cannot really avoid it especially involving children whose parents could not totally safeguard their safety during a disaster,” Gozon said.

But despite this, Gozon said he was glad that other agencies of the government like the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Army and the local government units affected by the flooding were ready to provide assistance to the affected families.

Trucks from the PNP and rubber boats from the Army were dispatched to help the fleeing families from their houses, Gozon said. (Leyte Samar Daily Express)

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