‘Seniang’ batters Misamis Oriental; province placed under state of calamity

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/29 December) – Heavy rains and strong winds spawned by tropical storm Seniang destroyed bridges, flooded roads and trapped 60 climbers in a remote mountain in Claveria town as the weather disturbance slammed across Misamis Oriental province on Monday.

Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Emano said a state of calamity was declared as Seniang” continued to batter 15 towns in the eastern section of the province.

Emano said they were concerned over the plight of the mountaineers who contacted the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) to say they could not come down from Mt. Lumot because the Cevoleg River had overflowed.

He said attempts to rescue the mountaineers were hampered by strong winds and heavy rains that triggered a landslide in barangay Aposakahoy in Claveria blocking the only road that leads to the mountain.

“We have advised them to back track from where they started and hunker down for the night,” he said.

The mountaineers, who came from Cebu, Davao, General Santos, Iligan and Cagayan de Oro cities, were on their annual yearend mountain climb called “Kamras” on the 2,320-meter Mt. Lumot, where Cebu Pacific flight 387 crashed in February 1998.

Dumping 20 millimeters of rain, Seniang triggered a flashflood that damaged the bridge in barangay Mambuaya, Balingasag town in Misamis Oriental Monday morning.

Edmundo Pacamalan Jr., Misamis Oriental PDRRMC chief said they have to suspend all traffic between Cagayan de Oro and Butuan City until the bridge can be fixed.

Pacamalan said the Tagoloan River also spilled into its banks forcing the evacuation of over 1,500 families.

He said 15 workers at Dole Philippines’ banana plantation in Sta. Ana, Tagoloan were also trapped because of the rising floodwaters.

Winds of 95 kilometers per hour beached cargo ship M/V Arowana 3 in Zone 1, Barangay Luz Banzon in Jasaan town, also in Misamis Oriental, the Office of Civil Defense in Region 10 reported.

OCD Region 10 information officer Titus Velez said the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines suspended five flights of Cebu Pacific and two flights of Philippine Air Lines servicing the Laguindingan (Misamis Oriental)-Manila route.

Velez said the Coast Guard also suspended sea voyage from the ports of Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Plaridel in Misamis Occidental, Benoni in Camiguin and Balingoan in Misamis Oriental.

In Cagayan de Oro, sirens rang from the City Hall warning the residents that Cagayan River had reached the danger level of five meters.

Teddy Sabugaa, chief of the City Social Welfare and Development Office said they immediately raised the “red alert status” and implemented the forced evacuation of residents living beside the Cagayan River.

“We imposed forced evacuation when the water reached five meters at 5:05 pm. Typhoon Pablo reached six meters but we do not want to wait for that,” Sabugaa said.

He said a total of 1,695 families or 4,507 persons were evacuated in less than two hours Monday night. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)