17 dead, thousands displaced in VisMin flooding

CEBU CITY (Updated) -- Severe flooding caused by torrential rains in the past three days has displaced thousands of families in the Visayas and Mindanao.

The flood waters have subsided as the tail-end of a cold front that brought the rains has weakened, although the threat of landslides remains and the death toll is rising.

As of Wednesday, the number of fatalities has risen to 17. The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in Northern Mindanao, in its 7 p.m report, said there are now 6 dead in Cagayan de Oro. Cebu has four. The death toll in Zamboanga del Norte has risen to seven, with the recovery of the bodies of Jeffrey Gamtiao, 35, and Pepe Randes, 57, late Tuesday night, said Senior Superintendent Edwin Buenaventura Wagan, Zamboanga del Norte police director.

Recovered dead earlier were: Lean Denise, 5; Arann Zurc, 3; and Christine Etam, 7, all of Roxas town; Jomar Rivera, 14, of Katipunan; and, Dominador Meraveles, 80, of Manukan.

Read: 5 dead, 1 missing in Zamboanga flash flood

Still missing is Jeremie Tawat, 7, of Barangay Mate, Manukan municipality.

State weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services (Pagasa) said in an advisory issued at 11 a.m. Wednesday that the tail-end of a cold front has weakened, but light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms will continue to be experienced in the Visayas, Mindanao and Palawan.

In a statement posted on its website, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said a total of 8,504 families, or 44,286 persons, were displaced.

Of the number, 8,202 families or 43,024 persons were taking temporary shelter in 126 evacuation centers set up by local government units (LGUs) based on a report by the DSWD-Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DROMIC) as of 3 a.m. Wednesday.

Most of the evacuees came from Northern Mindanao region, particularly in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Gingoog in Misamis Oriental, and Iligan City in Lanao del Norte.

A total of 12,079 families or 60,249 persons in 145 barangays in Negros Island Region (NIR), Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao. Food packs and dignity kits valued at a total of P5 million were distributed to the affected families.

DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo commended the concerned LGUs for their quick response.

“Maagap po ang naging tugon ng ating mga LGUs at mahigpit din po ang naging pagsuporta ng DSWD sa ginawang aksyon nila bilang first responder sa kalamidad (The LGUs were quick to respond to the needs of the affected families. The DSWD supported their actions as first responders during the occurrence of the calamity),” she said.

The DSWD report also said 47 houses in Northern Mindanao were damaged by flood water.

In Lanao del Sur, 8, 692 families in five towns of Lanao del Sur were affected.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao – Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team (Armm–Heart) identified the affected towns as Bubong, Ditsaan Ramain, Taraka, Maguing, and Kapai.

“A total of 8,962 families from 126 barangays in the five towns are currently affected,” Myrna Jocelyn Henry, Armm-Heart information officer, said on Wednesday.

The affected families per town are as follows: Bubong (2,100); Ditsaan Ramain (2,500); Taraka (3000); Maguing (1,000); and Kapai (362).

There were zero casualties and no displacement so far, despite the flooding, authorities said.

“The families decided to stay in their respective houses waiting for the water to subside,” Henry said.

In Davao del Norte, more than 7,000 residents from seven barangays of two municipalities in Davao del Norte were moved out to safer areas after the Libuganon River overflowed caused by the intermittent rains.

Of the seven barangays, five are in Kapalong namely Pag-Asa, Semong, Maniki, Sua-on and Florida and two barangays of Braulio E. Dujali town namely Dujali and Tanglaw.

The Davao del Norte provincial information office reported Wednesday that 730 families or 3,449 individuals in Kapalong and 3615 in B.E. Dujali are now attended to their respective evacuation areas set up by the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils (MDRRMC).

Glenda Delideli, Officer-in-Charge of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils (PDRRMC), assured readiness of the provincial to augment the assistance offered to the affected municipalities.

Delideli said responders are on stand-by while needed equipment like rubber boats are ready. They are also closely monitoring the situation.

According to the provincial government, the pre-emptive evacuations were executed between 3:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday, as the water level in Libuganon continues to rise.

Landslide incidents were also reported in Barangays Florida, Sua-on and Gupitan with no significant damage or casualty recorded.

Delideli also reported no casualty.

The Office of the Municipal Mayor Maria Theresa Timbol released on Wednesday morning an executive order commanding a localized suspension of classes in pre-school up to high school levels in both public and private institutions within the poblacion area. All schools in Brgy. Tanglaw have also suspended classes in all levels.

The heavy rains was brought by an LPA formed in Zamboanga Peninsula with a tail-end of a cold front affecting Visayas and Northern Mindanao. (SunStar Philippines/PNA)
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