At least 327 dead in Cagayan de Oro, Iligan floods

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/17 December) —  The death toll in Saturday’s flash floods in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan had, as of 7 p.m., risen to 327, most of them children.

At least 260 persons remain missing in the worst flooding in Mindanao in the last 25 years.

In Cagayan de Oro City, the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) reporterd 71 dead and 137 missing as of Saturday noon but journalists who went to three funeral parlors here listed 277 cadavers brought there: 60 in the Somo Funeral Homes; 17 in Cosmopolitan Funeral Parlor and at least 200 in the Bollozos funeral parlor.

Police rescuers carry one of the fatalities who died in the flashflood that inundated Cagayan de Oro City dawn Saturday (Dec. 17, 2011). MindaNews photo by Froilan Gallardo | VIEW SLIDESHOW

Chona Soler, a utility worker in Bollozos who was tasked to do the counting said she stopped counting after 200. Cadavers covered with mud were piled on top of each other in the morgue of Bollozos while others were strewn along its hallway and chapel.

In Iligan City, an elderly woman asked the caretakers and the crowd waiting outside the Capin Funeral Homes in Camague at around 4:30 p.m:  “may one-year old diha?” (Is there a one-year old there?).  The stench of death hovered as the crowd waited for trucks to unload the dead, one of whom could be their loved one.

At least 50 persons were confirmed dead while 260 persons remain missing, Arnel Bendijo, head of the  City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC), told MindaNews.

“Parang Hiroshima”

Sendong had left Mindanao by noon but it left behind a trail of death and devastation.

“Parang Hiroshima,” MindaNews editor Bobby Timonera said, when he saw the devastation wrought by Sendong on some barangays as he was entering his city, Iligan, from Cagayan de Oro.

At least 11 out of Iligan City’s 44 barangays and 23 out of Cagayan de Oro’s 80 barangays were under water. Thousands of residents were sent to their roofs shortly after midnight as floodwaters rose rapidly.

In Bukidnon, the provincial government reported six bridges destroyed in two towns, leaving the town of Baungon at the boundary with Cagayan de Oro City, “totally isolated.” (see other story).

In Cagayan de Oro, weather specialist Mario Guya of the Philippine Astronomical and Geophysical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Sendong brought rains with intermittent gusts of 14 mps winds which started late Friday afternoon, pouring 180 mm of rain water in less than 24 hours. (see other story)

Camiguin 2001

Before Saturday’s flooding, the highest death toll from floods in the last decade was when Typhoon Nanang struck Camiguin in November 2001, leaving some 300 persons dead.

Saturday’s death toll may yet surpass Camiguin’s ten years ago.

Sendong raged across Northern Mindanao at 1 a.m. Saturday, sending thousands of residents to their roofs as floodwaters rose rapidly in the cities of Cagayan and Iligan.

According to the Severe Weather Bulletin 8 issued by PAG-ASA at 5 a.m. Saturday,  Sendong “has maintained its course as it moves towards Sulu Sea.”

At  4 a.m. the center of Tropical Storm Sendong was estimated “based on satellite

and surface data at 20 km West Northwest of Cagayan de Oro City” with maximum sustained winds of 65 kph near the center and gustiness up to 80 kph, PAG-ASA said.

By 4 p.m. , PAGASA reported the center of the storm at 220 km west of Dumaguete City and was forecast to move west  at 24 kph, is expected to cross Palawan by Sunday morning and will exit the Philippine area of responsibility by Sunday evening.

Other areas

Situation Report 3  as of 9 a.m. December 17 of the National DRRMC website, said flooding was also reported in Valencia City, Bukidnon, in  Barangay Muluzan, El Salvador City in Misamis Oriental; in Compostela, Monkayo and Nabunturan towns in Compostela Valley.

The NDRRMC also reported landslies in Purok 21 and 22, Mt Diwata, Diwalwal, Monkayo,

Compostela Valley, leaving one dead and one house totally damaged.

A total of 260 families  or 1,560 persons were affected in barangays Lingig, Surigao

del Sur and Bislig City. The Lingig municipal gymnasium and the gymnasium in Mangagoy, Bislig were opened to shelter affected families.

On December 15, the NDRRMC reported flash floods in Polanco, Zamboanga del Norte that left  three persons dead and 20 families or 100 persons evacuated to higher grounds.

The report said Mrs. Damuag (first name not indicated) , 60, of Barangay Labador, died from drowning. Also dead from drowning were Rodrigo Siangco, 30, of Barangay Silawe, and  Rogelio Ramirez, 8, of Barangay San Antonio.

The NDRMMC also reported flooding in Barangays Turno and Dicayas, all in Dipolog City,  Zamboanga del Norte at around 10 a.m. on December 15.

Six houses and one day care center were “totally destroyed by raging flood water” and about 60 families or 300 persons were evacuated in Turno Elementary School.

Flooding was also reported by the NDRRMC in Ozamiz City’s barangays Catadman, Bacolod, Maningcol, Aguada Annex, Gango and Lam-an and in Barangay Lapasan in Clarin, Misamis Occidental.   (Cong Corrales and Violeta M. Gloria with reports from Carolyn O. Arguillas, Toto Lozano, Froilan Gallardo, and Walter Balane/MindaNews)