Weather system weakens, but stay alert against landslides

CEBU CITY -- The rains have stopped in Cebu, but upland communities and other areas highly susceptible to landslides should continue to stay alert because the ground is saturated and could shift anytime, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) warned on Wednesday, January 18.

Local government units (LGUs) down to the barangays are strongly urged to consult the 1:10,000 geohazard maps provided by the MGB and implement preemptive evacuation, especially during torrential rains.

"If they don't have a copy of the maps, they can always refer to the maps online," said Marian Z. Codilla, MGB information officer for Central Visayas.

Massive landslides and raging flash floods hit the Visayas, Northern Mindanao and Caraga regions after two weather systems, a low pressure area and the tail-end of a cold front dumped heavy rains across southern Philippines on Monday, January 16.

The low pressure area has dissipated and the tail-end of a cold front has weakened, state weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said in an advisory issued at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

But Pagasa said light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms will continue to be experienced in the Visayas, Mindanao and Palawan. A gale warning due to the surge of the northeast monsoon is still up over the seaboards of the Visayas, eastern seaboard of Caraga, northern seaboard of Northern Luzon, eastern seaboard of Central Luzon and the seaboards of Southern Luzon.

In Cebu, another landslide occurred in Sitio Garahe, Barangay Busay, Cebu City at 2:20 a.m. Wednesday, Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office Chief Nagiel Bañacia said in a Facebook post.

No casualties were reported but debris hit 11 vehicles, mostly public utility jeepneys parked along the road, and blocked the road leading to the Temple of Leah and Lantaw Native Restaurant on Roosevelt Drive.

READ: Busay landslide hits 11 vehicles

Landslides were earlier reported in the following upland areas of Cebu City: Sitio Kan-irag, Barangay Sirao; Sitio Lupa, Barangay Sapangdaku; Sitio Tabok Metropolis Sub, Barangay Pit-os; back of Barangay Binaliw Barangay Hall; and lower portion of Barangay Agsungot.

The heavy rains also triggered landslides in Naga City and Dumanjug town in Cebu, as well as in parts of Leyte, Northern Leyte and Northern Samar in Eastern Visayas.

READ: Heavy rains trigger landslide, flooding in Eastern Visayas

"All these landslides so far (occurred) in areas that have been identified as hazardous, especially if it rains. If they (residents) don't want to leave their homes, they should at least evacuate temporarily to avoid casualties and damage to property," Codilla said in a message to SunStar Philippines.

In a statement, MGB-Central Visayas Director Loreto Alburo called on all LGUs to continuously inform and educate people living in landslide- and flood-prone areas on the hazards they face.

He added that LGUs can reduce geohazard effects through land use policies and regulations.

MGB-Central Visayas has identified 41 barangays in Cebu City that are susceptible to flooding and 63 barangays, mostly hinterland villages, that are vulnerable to landslides.

In Barangay Sirao, where a massive landslide occurred on Monday, 13 sites have been identified as susceptible to rain-induced landslide, including portion in Kamandagan, Kambyo-os, Langub, Proper, and Tawagan II.

The bureau has also identified 28 flood-prone barangays and five landslide-prone barangays in Mandaue City.

There are also 16 low-lying barangays in Lapu-Lapu, 10 barangays in Consolacion, 17 in Talisay and 16 in Minglanilla that may experience flooding based on its geological location and flood history. (Marites Villamor-Ilano/SunStar Philippines)

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