9 dead from drowning, landslides in Caraga region, Gingoog, Maco; in Jolo, “the whole town became a river,”

MAINIT,  Surigao del Norte (MindaNews/04 February) — Nine persons died from drowning and landslides in Caraga region, Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental and Maco in Compostela Valey  province as the low pressure area since January 31 “brought widespread rains over Visayas and Mindanao,” the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC)  reported as of 6 a.m. today February 4.

The NDRCC situation report number 5 said the LPA “triggered the recurrence of flashfloods, landslides and big waves” in 11 provinces of Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Southeastern Midanao, Caraga and three towns in Sulu in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Caraga comprises the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur.

The report said “heavy rains and big waves”  along the shorelines of Jolo, Sulu affected five coastal barangays – Walled City, Bus-bus, Chinese Pier, Takut-takut and Tulay. The report added that a still undetermined number of families were displaced and about five residential houses including a bamboo footbridge and other pathways were damaged.

The report noted eight barangays were affected by the big waves and strong winds in Sulu: five in Jolo, one in Panamao, one in Pangutaran and one in Hadji Panglima Tahil towns.
But Father Charlie Inzon, OMI, president of the Notre Dame of Jolo College, in a text message from Jolo, Sulu, said Jolo town is “flooded as high as 10 feet in some areas.”
He said some vehicles were swept towards the main streets, appliances floated along the streets, some huts were shattered.

“People are shocked and confused when suddenly, around 9 last night, raging waters from a tornado plunged near Asturias and after an hour the whole town became a river. It was a horror night. Today, the town celebrates Bishop Ben day. The cathedral was not spared from flood,” his message to colleagues at the OMI, read.

The Catholic Church in predominantly Muslim Jolo, observes February 4 as Bishop Benjamin de Jesus day to mark his death anniversary. The bishop, referred to as Padil Bin by Taosugs and Badjaos, was gunned down a few meters from the cathedral on February 4, 1997.
Inzon told MindaNews in a telephone interview that some vehicles, appliances piled up in front of houses, animals floated and houses along the canal were swept away.

“Devastating. Walang na-save ang mga tao kasi biglaan” (they weren’t able to save anything because it was sudden).

He said badly hit are the areas of Asturias, where the provincial police command’s headquarters is, and the areas of Alat, Matada and Tulay.

Floodwaters also reached the cathedral in downtown Jolo, up to the flooring of the main altar while at the pews, the water was knee-deep, he said.
Inzon said in a teacher’s house he visited in Asturias, the wall clock stopped at 9, signifying that the water reached the clock about ten feet high from their floor, at 9 p.m.

Business establishments likewise suffered as goods for sale or stored, were reached by floodwaters, he said.

The town also suffered power outage as a result of the floods.

Elsewhere in the affected areas in Mindanao, the NDRMMC listed nine who died, seven of them from drowning. Two were reported to have been buried alive due to the landslide in Barangay Masgad in Malimono, Surigao del Norte: Carlito Benocilla, 26, and Raymund  Bonotan, 25.

Those who drowned were identified as Reyam Bahan, 7, of Barangay Dona Rosario, Tubay in Agusan del Norte, and Ricarte Ganzan, 70, of Barangay Binuangan, also of the same town; Ruben Ramos, 40 and one-year old Richard Ramos or Barangay Sta. Cruz in Rosario, Agusan del Sur; Rocel Antipuesto of Purok 8, Barangay Elizalde in Maco, Compostela Valley who drowned as he was crossing the Hijo River; and Christopher Laraga, 20, and Alger Jorge Boholano, 42, of Gingoog City.

The NDRRMC has yet to report on the overflowing of Lake Mainit which MindaNews reported earlier. Hundreds of families were displaced and a still undetermined amount of agricultural crops were destroyed in the lakeshore and neighboring towns. [see other story] (MindaNews)