Landslides prompt evacuation of 600 persons in S. Cotabato

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/ 12 October) — The provincial government of South Cotabato has ordered the evacuation of around 600 residents from three upland communities in Lake Sebu town following a series of landslides in the area since last week.

Lawyer Hilario de Pedro III, acting Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) chief, said Friday they decided to evacuate residents from sitios Bentung, Lemuti and Tokobokong in Barangay Lamlahak, Lake Sebu to avert a possible tragedy due to the threats of landslides in the area.

He said the three communities are considered as high-risk or in a danger zone due to the “multiple landslides” that occurred in the area since September 28.

A PDRRMO report cited that the landslides initially displaced 109 families in the area.
It said the incident was caused by almost a week of continuous rains that eventually triggered several ridges of the area’s barren mountain slopes to give in.

“(The rains) generated earth cracks which caused the soil descent,” de Pedro said.

John Lorca, PDRRMO’s disaster operations chief, said 25 families were also affected in another landslide that occurred in the area earlier this week.

He said two houses were destroyed in the incident, which was caused anew by the heavy rains in the area.
Lorca said that three to four hectares of the area’s mountains were deemed highly vulnerable to landslides due to the presence of ground cracks.

De Pedro, who is also the acting provincial administrator, said 155 families or a total of 620 individuals have been evacuated from the affected communities.

He said the provincial government initially delivered food and other relief items to the evacuees, who are currently taking temporary shelter at the village center in Lamlahak.

The official said they initially requested the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to conduct an assessment of the affected areas and determine whether it’s still safe for the residents to return there.

He said the MGB technical assessment, which is scheduled on Monday,
will serve as basis for the local government if there is a need to acquire a relocation site for the evacuees.

“In the meantime, we barred the evacuees from going back to their homes until we get the proper clearance from MGB,” de Pedro added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)