DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 22 December) — After the war, the flood.
Seven persons were killed in landslides and flashfloods brought about by severe tropical storm ‘Vinta’ in three towns in Lanao del Sur on Friday, 22 December, while four remain missing, the Provincial Information Office said in a press release Friday night.
As of 6:12 p.m. Friday, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) reported two dead and one missing in Wato-Balindong town, one dead and three missing in the municipality of Tugaya, and four dead in Madalum.
(UPDATE as of 3 p.m. 23 December: The death toll reached 18 as of 3 p.m. Saturday, with 10 reported dead in Tugaya and one in Tamparan town, according to Lanao del Sur Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong of the ARMM’s Regional Legislative Assembly).
The province is still reeling from the mass evacuation of residents in Marawi and neighboring towns at the onset of the Marawi Siege that started on May 23. Government forces fought against ISIS-inspired Maute Group and its allies in a five-month war. President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi “liberated from the terrorist influence” on October 17 and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana terminated all combat operations on October 23.
As of October 22, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported 77,170 families or 353,921persons were displaced by the armed conflict in Marawi.
The three towns where the ‘Vinta’ victims were killed, are among the host municipalities of residents displaced by the war in Marawi — Wato-Balindong (1,142 families), Madalum (470 families) and Tugaya (251 families).
Photographs coming out of Barangay Kormatan in Madalum town showed images similar to the debris flow in Barangay Andap in New Bataan, Compostela Valley when super typhoon Pablo struck on December 4, 2012. Andap registered the highest number of deaths as residents and houses were swept away or buried by rampaging waters, rocks and boulders.
As of Friday night, December 22, Madalum posted the highest number of deaths — four out of seven reported. And all four were killed in Kormatan, lawyer Exan Sharief told MindaNews.
Sharief, a resident of Lanao del Sur who has relatives in Kormatan, Madalum noted that the area is “landslide-prone” but this is the first time a debris flow happened. He said at least ten houses were destroyed.
The PDRRMO quoted MDRRMO Madalum’s report as saying continuous rains brought about by tropical storm ‘Vinta’ triggered flooding in the villages of Kormatan, Dandamun, Bato, Poblacion and Paridi Kalimodan “na may kasamang mga bato at kakahoyan” (with rocks and boulders and trees).
A December 8, 2012 report of the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards of the University of the Philippines, said Andap was “overwhelmed by a rapid downward moving mass of material composed of boulders, gravel and sand and fluid as wet cement. In its wake, it left a pile of rubble called a debris flow deposit.”
In Barangay Andap, houses, the barangay hall, health center, an elementary school, resorts, the highway to Maragusan town as well as trees and farmlands – were buried under what the Mines and Geo-Sciences regional bureau estimated as five-meter (16.4 feet) deep debris of rocks and boulders, stretching about a kilometer wide and flowing all the way down to Barangay Cogonon some 10 kilometers away.
Barangay Andap was the hardest hit among the areas struck by Pablo and had the most number of dead and missing – at least 430 out of the 612 killed in Compostela Valley province. According to the records of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Pablo claimed the lives of 1,067 persons in eight regions nationwide.
Lanao del Sur Governor Bedjoria Soraya Alonto Adiong instructed the PDRRMO to continue its rescue operations and “collect all the necessary reports per municipality pertaining to the number of properties damaged and destroyed, number of people missing and dead, and families displaced.”
She also directed the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office to ensure that the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the municipalities are provided with relief assistance, and the Provincial Engineering Office to lend all their equipment and machineries for rescue and clearing purposes.
The governor assured the people of Lanao del Sur that assistance shall be extended to those in need.
Earlier on Friday, Lanao del Sur Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesperson of the Provincial Crisis Management Committee, appealed to the National Power Corporation to “open the sluice gates in Agus 1 and the regulatory dams in Marawi.”
He said flash floods affect the agricultural areas especially the low-lying areas in the eastern side of the bridge and municipalities that are directly affected by the flashfloods caused by typhoons are Ditsaan-Ramain, Bubong and Buadi Puso Buntong and even up to Poona Bayabao. Bubong is within the area declared as watershed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)