KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/11 September) – Four people, including a 10-month old baby, were confirmed dead while another seven-month old baby was still missing after flashfloods and landslides swept several villages here Friday night.
The floods, which closed down a three-kilometer stretch of the General Santos City-Koronadal City highway for several hours, and the landslides came after a two-hour downpour in the area that started at around 5pm.
A report from the City Disaster Coordinating Council (CDCC) confirmed that at least four remains have been recovered as of Saturday morning at a portion of Sitio Upper Acub in Barangay San Isidro, which was hit by at least five major landslides Friday night.
The confirmed fatalities were identified as 80-year old Linda Eres, 37-year old Anita Patricio and her three-year-old daughter Michaela and 10-month old son Rene Boy.
The CDCC’s search and retrieval team is still trying to locate seven-month old Aira Mae Cabel, who was reported missing after the landslides.
Six residents from Sitio Upper Acub identified as Ricardo Tacuyo, Ronilo Cabel, Lito Eres, Aileen Mae Cabel, Virigina Espino and Leslie Patricio were reported injured and are being treated at the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital, the CDCC said.
“The area (Sitio Acub) was practically devastated. A portion of the village was wiped out by huge rocks and fallen mountain debris, a new waterway has emerged and the area’s main road was erased from the map,” said Koronadal Mayor Peter Miguel, who rushed to the scene late Friday night.
Aside from the landslide, the mayor said flashfloods also swept Carpenter Hill and Sto. Nino after a portion of a dike in the area collapsed at the height of the heavy rains.
He said huge volumes of floodwaters from the mountains of Barangay Saravia swelled towards the national highway in Barangay Carpenter Hill and submerged nearby houses to as high as four feet.
Because of the floods, Miguel said the national highway was totally closed down Friday night, leaving hundreds of vehicles stranded in the area.
He said the highway, which was partially reopened early Saturday, were still being cleared of mud and rock debris by personnel from the Department of Public Works and Highways and the City Engineer’s Office.
In Barangay Sto. Nino, Miguel said flashfloods were also reported at the Marbel River and damaged at least three houses in the area.
“Right now, our entire disaster team is already in the field and our main priority is to attend to the immediate needs of the victims. We’re currently conducting an assessment for the possible declaration of a state of calamity,” the mayor said.
Reynante Bacongco, chair of Barangay San Isidro, said the landslides in Sitio Upper Acub occurred following a flashflood at a dried-up creek and another river in the area.
He said the floodwaters softened a portion of the mountain near the banks of the creek that eventually collapsed and buried the houses owned by the Patricio, Cabel and Toni families.
Bacongco said the landslide also hit and partially damaged at least five other nearby houses.
“There was a sudden rush of floodwaters from the direction of Barangay Bolol and then the landslides happened,” he said.
Former Barangay San Isidro councilman Manorak Flok said more than 100 families from the village have evacuated as a result of the flashfloods and the landslides.
He said the evacuees have taken temporary shelter at a public school compound in the area.
“This is the worst calamity that ever happened in my village. I never imagined this would ever happen here, “ Flok told reporters.
Bacongco said he is set to convene the San Isidro Barangay Council within the day to assess the damage and work for the declaration of a state of calamity to allow them to use their calamity funds.
He said their latest monitoring showed that the flashfloods and landslides affected a significant portion of the area’s vegetable and palay farms.
Bacongco said disaster and social welfare personnel from the city government and the provincial government of South Cotabato already sent food supplies and clothes to the evacuees.
He said Mayor Miguel authorized the release of financial assistance for the mortuary expenses and other immediate needs of the victims’ families.(Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)