6 persons die in Lanao Norte, Zambo Sur landslides

According to Bong Alburo, project coordinator of Hanjin, the construction company paving the Iligan-Aurora highway, the affected barangays are Sta. Cruz, Balili, Dunggo-an, Lapinig, Margos, Taguitic in Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte and Anunang and Tugaya in Aurora, Zamboanga del Sur. 

Three people reportedly died inside a Rural Transit bus swept by rampaging mud in Barangay Tugaya, Aurora town, police officials said. The fatalities were identified as Delma Allam, the postmaster of Tungawan town in Zamboanga Sibugay; Felicitation Gay-ab, of Cabadbaran, Agusan del Sur; and a still unidentified old woman. The bus was reportedly traveling from Pagadian City to Iligan City.

In Kapatagan, sickly Edilberto Lazerto of Pagadian City reportedly died inside a bus as he panicked at the sight of the floods. Adel Cabatana and Virgie Fuentes, both of Barangay Margos in Kapatagan also died due to the floods, according to Col. Rodolfo Quinto, commanding officer of the 5th Marine Battalion Landing Team.

Three-year-old Christopher Titallar, who fell off a pump boat, was still missing as of press time, officials said.

In an ocular survey with the manager of the Lanao del Norte Electric Cooperative, Resnol Torres, it was found out that the national highway from Kapatagan to Aurora was still not passable as of this afternoon due to the landslides. It is the same highway linking Pagadian to the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.

Lanao del Norte Gov. Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo said the mudslides covered a 10-kilometer stretch of coastal highway along the Moro Gulf between Kapatagan town and Pagadian City. Power lines and communication towers were also toppled.

Philippine National Police Northern Mindanao Regional Director Florante Baguio, who visited the area, said several houses and an earth-moving grader of the Department of Public Works and Highway were also covered by mud.

Kapatagan town Mayor Benny Baguio said they heard a deep rumble before the mud came down from the mountains around 2 a.m. this morning. He said residents told him that they believed that the mudslides were caused by “buhawi” or water tornadoes that struck the mountains overlooking their villages.

The mayor said 135 families have taken shelter in the town’s gymnasium. The provincial disaster coordinating council said a total of 241 families were affected by the mudslides.

The Rescue 811 team from nearby Iligan City responded and established its control base in Barangay Lapinig of this town. Classes in the affected barangays were temporarily suspended. (Richel V. Umel and Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)

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