South Cotabato issues flood alert

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/26 June) – The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) of South Cotabato has alerted residents situated in the lowlands of Tampakan town against the possible occurrence of flashfloods following the confirmed landslides in an upland river.

Isidro Janita, PDRRMO head, said Tuesday huge volumes of waters have impounded at a portion of the Topland River in Sitio Kolon Datal, Barangay Lampitak in Tampakan town after stone boulders brought down by landslides on Sunday blocked the river’s pathway.

He said local residents and workers sent by the municipal government of Tampakan are presently clearing the area to stop the water from further building up.

“We’re closely watching the area because there’s a possibility that flashfloods may occur in case of heavy rains,” he said in a radio interview.

Janita said the PDRRMO sent a team to conduct an ocular inspection on Monday but the area was inaccessible.

South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr., who received a report regarding the landslides Monday morning, ordered the PDRRMO to immediately send a team to the area and commissioned some heavy equipment to help in the clearing operation.

He also directed the province’s search and rescue teams to closely monitor the situation, specifically the river’s water flow.

Tampakan Mayor Leonardo Escobillo said their workers were able to reach the landslide area on Monday and initially cleared a portion of the blocked river.

“They made an artificial canal to drain some of the impounded water,” he said.

Escobillo said they are presently working double time to immediately to clear the area and allow the river’s water flow to normalize.

Constancio Paye Jr., Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Region 12 chief, said they are also sending a team to check on the areas that were affected by the landslides.

He said they will also determine whether the landslides were connected to the continuing illegal “banlas” or sluice mining operations there.

Tampakan authorities earlier confirmed the resurgence of sluice mining activities, a method which employs the pouring of large amounts of water on a mountain’s surface to extract the rocks containing the gold ore, in the upland portions of the town.

In April last year, four miners were killed following a landslide that hit a riverside sluice mining site. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)