Floods, strong winds batter Southwestern Mindanao

LEBAK, Sultan Kudarat (MindaNews/03 July) – Heavy rains accompanied by strong winds continued to batter Maguindanao and neighboring provinces as of Friday, causing floods that have destroyed millions of pesos worth of crops, government sources said.

Maguindanao’s 12 towns were submerged in flood water after days of continuous rains that caused rivers in neighboring Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato provinces overflow.

Sultan Kudarat, meanwhile, has been placed under a state of calamity due to inclement weather that has hit the province since June 24.

Over 50,000 residents have been affected by flash floods in the towns of Lambayong, Lutayan, Esperanza, Bagumbayan, Isulan, President Quirino and Tacurong City.

Some P300 million worth of agricultural crops were damaged by flash floods, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said.

In Lebak town, Sultan Kudarat a 13 year-old girl was killed when a coconut tree fell and hit her at the height of a downpour coupled by strong winds in this town early Friday, a disaster management official said.

Myla Canete, chair of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, identified the victim as Gina Benito, resident of Barangay Kinudalan, Lebak.

Canete said Benito, a grade 8 pupil, was inside her home when a coconut tree toppled by strong winds fell on her house at 5 a.m.

Canete said the coastal village of Tibpuan was also flooded due to heavy rain which was worsened by high tide.

Several houses were destroyed and fishermen could not go out fishing for a week now due to torrential rains.

“Nobody was hurt in the Tibpuan village and no evacuation was reported,” said Von Ballite, executive assistant of Mayor Dionisio Besana.

Local officials suspended classes for elementary and high school levels on Thursday and Friday, Canete added.

In Barangay Nangi, Upi, Maguindanao, a baby survived unscathed after a mango tree fell on their house on Thursday afternoon due to strong winds and heavy rains.

But her sibling, Jorly Tumbaga, was hit in the shoulder and was immediately brought to Cotabato City Hospital.

In Basilan province, 113 houses were damaged by strong winds and heavy rainfall on Thursday in Hadji Mutahmad,  Maluso and Lantawan towns, according to the Office of Civil Defense-ARMM Regional Director Myrna Angot.

Thirty-six houses weredamaged in Hadji Mutahmad, 75 in Maluso and two in Lantawan. No casualties were reported. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)