Vinta aftermath: 214 dead, 101 missing in 2 Lanaos and Zambo Norte

DAVAO  CITY (MindaNews / 27 December) —  At least 214 persons were killed mostly due to flash floods while 101 remain missing in the two Lanao provinces and Zamboanga del Norte in the wake of severe tropical storm Vinta, consolidated reports from disaster response officials and the Provincial Police Office said.

This, as a low pressure area is threatening to develop into tropical depression ‘Agaton’ and is expected to make landfall on New Year’s Day over Eastern Mindanao.

Lanao del Norte posted the highest death toll among the three provinces badly hit as Vinta made landfall in Cateel, Davao Oriental and moved westward on December 22.  Its Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) recorded 119 dead, 53 missing and 14 injured as of 5 p.m. on December 31.

One of several houses damaged by flash flood in In Barangay Dalama, Tubod, Lanao del Norte on 23 December 2017. Photo courtesy of the Provincial Government of Lanao del Norte .

In Zamboanga del Norte, 67 residents were killed and 41 others were still missing as of the 2:30 p.m. report of the Provincial Police Office (ZDN-PPO).

Gutalac town reported 19 deaths and 18 missing, followed by Salug with 15 dead and two missing , and Sibuco with 14 dead and 26 missing.

In Lanao del Sur, 28 were reported killed and 7 remain missing, according to the PDRRMO update as of December 28. Piagapo listed 10 dead and two missing while Madalum town listed eight dead and five missing.

In Lanao del Norte, Salvador town posted the highest number of deaths – 52, with 27 missing. Of this number, 24 deaths and 12 missing were recorded in Barangay Calimodan.

Tubod reported 32 dead and 12 missing; Munai, 27 dead and seven missing.

Vinta triggered the evacuation of 168,081 families or 794,613 residents in 1,151 barangays in eight regions in the country, six of them in Mindanao. Out of the total number, 164,172 families or 776,113 residents in 1,094 barangays in Mindanao are affected.

President Rodrigo Duterte flew over the devastated towns en route to the MCC Hotel in Tubad, Lanao del Norte on December 27 where he attended a briefing of the NDRRMC and expressed his condolences to those who lost their loved ones.

“There seems to be no let-up in the typhoons that batter the country today. I don’t know if the climate change that they have been talking about was really… had something to do with the greater and more deaths than before. But it’s there. It is a reality,” Duterte said.

The President said he felt sad that “we will end 2017 with a bang of so many deaths of the Filipinos, ranging from carelessness to accidents and the typhoons. There seems to be a sorrow prevailing in the country today and it was not already a good Christmas day for all of us, thinking that there are persons suffering.”

He promised mayors prompt repair of damaged bridges and other government infrastructure, as well as providing temporary bridges and that whatever assistance is needed would be attended to by his Cabinet members. He also asked the SOCO (Scene of the Crime Operatives) to ensure the remains of the victims who can no longer be identified are identified through DNA matching.

He assured local officials  they will try to “fast-track everything. You can be very sure of that.”

“We’re ending the year with a big bang of sorrow and agony. I just hope that next year Allah would be kind enough to give us a new beginning. I just hope that it would turn out that way. Maraming disaster ang 2017…,” Duterte said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)