Death toll in Bukidnon flood rises to 3

Villagers in Bangcud found the body of Erlinda Geraldo late Tuesday morning, five days after flashfloods and a tornado struck the area late evening of December 27. The flood damaged houses and farms in seven other villages in the province.

Geraldo was buried Wednesday afternoon at the Bugcaon cemetery beside the grave of her two grandchildren Lovely Araza, 6, and John Mark, 4, who were also washed out by strong flood waters and were found meters away from their house on December 30.

But the body of Geraldo's third grandchild, two-year old Stephanie, was still missing.

The family lived in Purok 6, a remote part of the village, where six houses were destroyed by what residents described as the "strongest flood" to ever hit the village in three decades.

Flood waters destroyed Geraldo's hillside house, the day care center of the village and partly ruined the Catholic Church chapel beside it.  Three spillways around the village were also damaged.

The flood affected at least 84 families in Purok 1 and 7 in nearby Kulasihan village, where the flood washed out also six houses.

Flashfloods also hit villages downstream along three of Malaybalay's highway barangays affecting hundreds of families and millions of pesos worth of damages.

In Bangcud, Manuel Armendrala, 86, of Purok 7, remained missing as of late Wednesday afternoon, according to one of his grandchildren in a text message to MindaNews.

Teresita Asiñero, Philippine National Red Cross provincial director, confirmed the information Wednesday.

Asiñero said the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office of Lantapan town estimated total damage to be at least P6 million, including damaged crops.

An official of the Malaybalay City disaster coordinating council told MindaNews they have labeled the calamity as flashflood although the PNRC-Bukidnon said that residents in the affected villages in Lantapan told them that the floods were caused by a tornado.

Cesar Gabales, a weather observer at the local weather bureau said the agency had monitored a "cloud burst," a type of tornado that hit the villages. But he said a team of the personnel from the regional center of the Office of Civil Defense would be on field on Thursday to conduct a deeper probe.

Asiñero said that at about the same time on December 27, tornado also hit three barangays in Maramag town in southern Bukidnon. A house in each of Brgy. Dagumba-an, Kulambugan and Kuya, were washed out, she said.

Rogelio Sorilla, a village councilor of Bugcaon has blamed banana plantations in the village for the damage and told Mindanews that the plantations could be blamed for soil erosion and the stronger floods.  (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)