GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/30 Sept) – A farmer and a seven-year-old girl were killed while five schoolchildren were injured as thunderstorms and strong winds brought by a tornado struck at least three municipalities in South Cotabato province Thursday.
A report from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) said the weather disturbance ravaged the municipalities of Norala, Tantangan and Polomolok towns around mid-afternoon and early evening on Thursday.
In Norala town, a farmer identified as Walter Priales was killed after he was hit by a lightning while plowing his field in Barangay Liberty in Norala.
Senior Police Officer 4 Rodolfo Ospital of the Norala police station said both the victim and his carabao were severely burned after the lightning struck them while a thunderstorm was looming on Thursday afternoon.
In Tantangan town, a Grade 2 pupil of the Bukay Pait Elementary School identified as Merian Anota was killed after she was hit by falling debris of their school’s stage that collapsed at the height of a strong tornado that hit the area.
Alvaro Garingo, coordinator of the Tantangan Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, told MindaNews that pupils at the Bukay Pait Elementary School were attending their Physical Education classes when the twister came around 3:30 p.m.
“Six Grade 2 pupils immediately took shelter at the school’s old stage but the structure crashed into them after taking a direct hit from the twister,” he said.
Garingo said Anota, who sustained severe head injuries, was immediately rushed to the Doctor’s Clinic and Hospital in Koronadal City but later died due to complications.
He said two of the victims identified as Crystelle Jane Ogayco and Ashley dela Cruz are still confined at the same hospital but are now reportedly in stable condition.
The three other pupils – Loverlyn Ignacio, Renalyn Promito and Love Fronda – only sustained minor injuries, he said.
Garingo said the local government shouldered the medical bills of Anota and the two other patients.
“We’re currently processing the additional financial assistance for the victims’ families,” he said.
Meantime, in Polomolok town, the PDRRMC reported that strong winds also battered several barangays in the area early Thursday evening that resulted to the collapse of several electric posts and power lines.
It said a tricycle driven by Joseph Cahilig was damaged after it was felled by a collapsed electric post in Barangay Suli, Polomolok. The toppling of the power lines in the area also cut off power supplies in portions of Polomolok and several other villages in nearby T’boli town. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)