Region 12 floods kill 11, affect tens of thousands

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/21 June) — Eleven persons have died in the flooding that swept Southwestern Mindanao in the last three weeks, which affected tens of thousands of people, due to sporadic heavy rains spawned by the low pressure area east of Mindanao.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council issued the report on Tuesday morning, which also showed that damage to crops and properties has reached P429 million, including those from other parts of the island.

Undersecretary Benito Ramos, NDRRMC executive director, said that a total of 19 floods/flash floods occurred from May 31 to June 19 also in Northern Mindanao (Region 10), Southern Mindanao (Region 11) and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Cotabato City has the highest number of affected families in as far as a local government unit is concerned, placed at 21,362 families or 76,154 individuals, the NDRRMC situational report showed.

The floods in Cotabato City, which declared a state of calamity, have been blamed on water hyacinths or water lilies that drifted from Liguasan Marsh to the Rio Grande de Mindanao.

“Clearing of water lilies started on June 16 joined by some 800 enlisted Army and police personnel and hundreds of civilian volunteers,” Ramos said.

As of June 20, the water lilies were significantly reduced and floodwaters had subsied, but the water level remained high and continuously threatened Cotabato City residents, he added.

In Southwestern Mindanao, 207 villages have been submerged by floods in the provinces of North Cotabato, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

Thirteen towns in North Cotabato, which was hit the most, were affected by floods, two in South Cotabato and one in Sultan Kudarat.

Of the 11 fatalities in Southwestern Mindanao who died from drowning, 10 came from North Cotabato and the other one from Cotabato City.

All throughout Mindanao, a total of 135,921 families or 703,199 individuals were affected in 575 barangays of 59 towns, five cities and 10 provinces, the NDRRMC report said.

Of the affected villages, 307 were from the ARMM, 179 in Maguindanao and 124 in Lanao del Sur.

Maguindanao has already declared a state of calamity, the report said.

The P429-million damage to properties, infrastructure and agriculture across Mindanao is expected to rise significantly as North Cotabato and Lanao del Sur have yet to come up with figures.

Assorted relief supplies have been served to 97,379 families worth at least P12 million from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, local government units and non-government organizations, Lim said.

He added that upon availability of a C-130 military cargo plane, the DSWD in Manila will airlift non-food items such as adult shirts, coats, bed sheets, towels, blankets, comforters and pants for flood victims in Southwestern Mindanao and the ARMM.

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration warned early today that the low pressure area may develop into Tropical Depression that will be named Falcon, although it was travelling in a west northwest direction and may not make a landfall in the country.

Pagasa said that Falcon will be stronger and wider in reach than Egay.

As of 11:00am today, the NDRRMC said in an advisory that the low pressure area has indeed become a tropical depression with its center located 670 kilometers east of Borongan, Samar.

Falcon came just a few hours after Tropical Depression Egay left the Philippines on Monday afternoon.  (Bong Sarmiento with reports from H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)