Death toll in Butuan flood rises to 7

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/25 January)—The death toll from the flooding here in the last two weeks has risen to seven from four despite the efforts of the local government unit and other government agencies to step up their evacuation and rescue operations at the height of the calamity.

Gracia Espere, officer-in-charge of the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO), said that fresh reports from the barangays confirmed the additional number of fatalities due to the floods.

“Out of the seven reported deaths, three were from drowning, three from hypothermia and one from electrocution,” she said.

Espere added they are still searching for four individuals who were reported missing at the height of tropical depression “Agaton.”

The CDRRMO identified those who died from drowning as Oscar Danago, 26, of Barangay Bugsukan; Noel Maglupay, 34, of Manila de Bugabus; and Jason Mahipo, 20, of Barangay Mahogany, whose body was found only Saturday morning.

The three who died from hypothermia are Cresencia Ascares, 86, and Enojario Cetra, 40, both from Barangay Aupagan, and Benvienido Abordo, 56, of Barangay San Vicente.

Arnold Ligtas, 26, Barangay Aupagan died from electrocution.

CDRRMO records showed that two of the reported missing are from Barangay Tungao and the two others from Barangay Baan.

Espere said the hypothermia victims died while seeking refuge at a covered court that served as an evacuation center.

She said they are planning to construct evacuation facilities that would protect people from being exposed to the elements as part of their disaster risk mitigation program.

Espere cited as challenge the attitude of the people to disregard warnings to evacuate “because flooding has become a normal occurrence in the city.”

She said they usually issue warnings to the barangay units to evacuate their constituents, especially when the situation is on Alert 3 level.

Supt. Romy Palgue, the city’s deputy police director, also said that rescue teams had a hard time convincing people to leave their houses at the height of the flooding.

He lamented that rescuers also risk their lives and face health hazards in rescuing people from the floods. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)