3 die, 800 displaced in SouthCot, S. Kudarat floods

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 24 June) – Three people have died while around 800 residents were displaced in parts of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces as flashfloods and landslides hit the area early Wednesday.

Reports from local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) offices said the floods and landslides occurred following the almost non-stop heavy to moderate rains that started on Tuesday evening.

In South Cotabato, severe flooding were reported in the municipalities of Banga, Norala, Tantangan, Tupi and Koronadal City due to the swelling of several rivers and tributaries.

Landslides were also reported in Barangays Bunao and Lunen in Tupi after a portion of a mountain collapsed at the height of heavy rains early Wednesday.

Ira Aguinaldo, staff member of the Tupi Municipal DRRM Office (MDRRMO), said three casualties were reported in the landslide that hit a portion of Purok Tinago, Sitio Akmaon in Barangay Bunao.

Two of the casualties were identified as couple Nonoy and Monita Ga, who were both 74 years old.

“Our search and rescue team is currently in the area to retrieve the bodies of the casualties and assess the situation there,” she told MindaNews in a telephone interview.

Aguinaldo said flashfloods were also recorded in three other barangays but no immediate evacuations and casualties were reported.

In Banga town, the MDRRMO reported that some 280 families composed of 600 individuals have evacuated due to the flashfloods that affected eight barangays.

An initial 117 hectares of palay farmlands were damaged as a result of the floods in Barangays Yangco, Malaya, Cabuling, Reyes Punong Grande, Rizal, Rang-ay and Cinco.

Arman Palomar, Yangco barangay chairman, said 280 families were forced to leave their homes as early as 2 a.m. after huge volumes of floodwaters from nearby Banga River swept their area.

He said some 75 houses sustained various damages due to the floods that reached about four feet.

The floodwaters swelled towards three riverside communities following the collapse of a spur dike along the Banga River, he said.

He said the offices of South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes, Rep. Ferdinand Hernandez and Mayor Albert Palencia already delivered food and other relief goods to the affected residents.

In Koronadal City, city administrator Cyrus Urbano said three major bridges sustained some damages due to a series of flashfloods along the Marbel River.

He said a bridge in Barangay Namnama was “cut into half” while another in Barangay Sto. Nino sustained some cracks.

The approach of the main bridge connecting the city and Barangay Concepcion was also damaged, he said.

Urbano said City Mayor Peter Miguel suspended classes in all levels at around 6 a.m. as precaution.

Meantime, in Sultan Kudarat, around 200 individuals have also evacuated in Barangay Rajah Muda in Tacurong City due to flashfloods along a major river.

Allan Freno, Tacurong City information officer, said residents of three puroks were forced to leave their homes due to the swelling of a river tributary traversing the village early Wednesday.

“The floodwaters reportedly rose to about five feet in communities situated near the river,” he said in an interview over dxMC Bombo Radyo.

Classes in three schools – Rajah Muda Elementary School, Rajah Muda National High School and Lourdes Pama Elementary School – were suspended as a result of the floods.

Freno said City Mayor Lina Montilla ordered the immediate delivery of food and relief goods to the affected residents.

He said the local government mobilized personnel from the City DRRM Office, City Social Welfare and Development Office, City Health Office and the city police to assist in the relief operations.