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Death toll from tropical depression in southern Philippines now 41
Publication Date : 20-01-2014
Floods and landslides triggered by Tropical Depression Agaton claimed four more lives in Mindanao in southern Philippines over the weekend, bringing to 41 the death toll from the first weather disturbance to hit the Philippines this year, officials said on Sunday.
Agaton (international name: Lingling) has wreaked havoc across Mindanao, affecting more than 580,000 people, 161,000 of whom have been displaced and moved to evacuation centres.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) raised the number of dead by four from Friday’s toll, as the weather bureau said further “moderate to heavy” rains were expected over large areas of Mindanao.
Public storm warning signal No. 1 has been hoisted in six provinces that are expected to be hit by 60-kilometre-per-hour winds over the next 36 hours. These are Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur and Compostela Valley.
As of 4 p.m. Sunday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) expected Agaton to be 215 kilometers southeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, or 220 km east of Davao City, carrying maximum winds of 55 kph and moving southwest at 5 kph.
If it maintains its speed, it could linger over Mindanao until Wednesday, weather forecaster Gener Quitlong said.
“If it makes a landfall in Davao Oriental by Monday or Tuesday, it could weaken into a low pressure and dissipate,” Quitlong said. “But we are not discounting the possibility that it could change direction and intensify.”
He explained that Agaton was unable to move out of the country and kept changing direction because it was trapped between two high-pressure zones caused by the northeast monsoon.
It is expected to be 155 km southeast of Davao City by this afternoon, 60 km southeast of General Santos City by tomorrow and 205 km southwest of it or outside the Philippine area of responsibility by Wednesday, Quitlong said.
The NDRRMC said a state of calamity had been declared in Lanao del Norte province, including Iligan City, where incessant rains swelled rivers, flooding villages.
The towns of Kapalong, Carmen, Asuncion, New Corella and Tagum in Davao del Norte province and the towns of Tarragona, Manay, Caraga, Baganga, Cateel and Boston in Davao Oriental province were also placed under a state of calamity, the council said.
Earlier, the towns of Sta. Josefa, Sibagat and Bunawan in Agusan del Sur, Butuan City in Agusan del Norte, and the towns of Liang, Tago, San Miguel and Bislig in Surigao del Sur province were declared under a state of calamity, the NDRRMC said.
Death toll rises
The council said flooding and landslides caused by incessant rains and strong winds brought by Agaton killed 40 people in Mindanao.
The Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in Surigao del Sur on Sunday reported that a body was recovered in a river in the town of San Miguel, raising the death toll to 41.
The NDRRMC said the casualties were reported in the Zamboanga Peninsula, northern Mindanao, Davao and Caraga.
Sixty-five people were also hurt while five others were reported missing as heavy rains flooded low-lying villages and triggered landslides in mountainous areas, it said.
Nine-year-old Reynaldo Emata, of Lower Sihayon, Zone 10A, Tagoloan town in Misamis Oriental, drowned on Saturday, according to the council.
The others who died in the flooding were Eddie Largo, of Compostela town, Compostela Valley province, and Francisco Rivera, a resident of Tagum City, Davao del Norte, who were both reported missing before their bodies were found separately on Saturday.
The body reported by the PIA in Surigao del Sur yesterday was not immediately identified.
The council said 14 landslides and six flash floods had occurred since heavy rains dumped by Agaton began to pound the areas within its 300-km diameter last week.
It advised against sea travel off eastern Luzon and eastern Visayas.
It said 123,444 families, or 587,115 people, had been affected by incessant rains in 635 villages in the 15 provinces of northern Mindanao, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, southern Mindanao and Caraga.
Agaton also displaced 161,808 people, who are now staying in 436 evacuation centers, and damaged 1,900 houses, the NDRRMC said.
More than 7,300 passengers were still stranded and 120 sea vessels and rolling cargoes were marooned in seven ports in Visayas and Bicol.
The NDRRMC estimated damage to infrastructure and crops at P313.8 million.
Ready for emergencies
Fearing that Agaton might make a landfall in Governor Generoso town in Davao Oriental, the local government began to prepare residents for evacuation on Sunday.
Governor Generoso Mayor Vicente Orencia said emergency responders were ready for action at the operations center, while village officials were knocking on doors to tell people to prepare for preemptive evacuation.
Skies were overcast in Davao Oriental yesterday, with light to moderate rains.
Several towns, including Baganga, Cateel and Boston, which were ravaged by Typhoon “Pablo” in December 2012, remained isolated after bridges had been washed out in the floods.
Local authorities in Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley stepped up preparations for evacuations.
More than 350 families were moved to safer grounds in two towns in Compostela Valley in anticipation of flash floods, local officials said.
Compostela Valley Gov.
Arturo Uy called off classes at all school levels throughout the province.
Moderate to strong winds have been hitting Surigao del Norte and Dinagat provinces since Saturday night.
In Surigao City, the roads were littered with uprooted trees and metal roofing blown off houses. There were no reports of deaths or injuries, though hundreds of families had been taken to evacuation centers.
In Surigao del Norte, heavy rains and floods sent more than 8,000 people to evacuation centres.
Severely hit were the towns of Gigaquit, Tubod and Mainit whose residents fled when the waters of Lake Mainit began to rise on Saturday.
Residents of the three mining towns also feared landslides.
In Butuan City, two major evacuation centers were already crowded with displaced residents.
Butuan Mayor Ferdinand Amante appealed for relief for the evacuees, particularly hot meals, water, milk for children, mats and blankets.
Classes at all levels have been suspended throughout Agusan del Norte.
Sea travellers stranded
The bad weather forced the suspension of sea travel, stranding up to 7,325 travellers as of Sunday.
Cmdr. Armand Balilo, spokesman for the Philippine Coast Guard, said most of the stranded travelers were in the ports of Matnog, Sorsogon (3,570) and Allen, Northern Samar (2,412).
The others were in Surigao City, 368; Maasin, Leyte, 318; Bulan, Sorsogon, 200; Pasacao, Camarines Sur, 180; Cebu City, 151; Ormoc City, 90; and Masbate, 36.—With reports from Jennette I. Andrade and Jerry E. Esplanada in Manila; Karlos Manlupig, Frinston Lim, Danilo Adorador III, Chris Panganiban and Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao; and AFP