Tension cracks from last year’s strong quakes plus heavy downpour trigger landslides; 2 killed in Digos City

BARANGAY BINATON, Digos City (MindaNews / 05 June) — Tension cracks from last year’s series of above Magnitude 6 earthquakes plus heavy downpour triggered landslides in three villages here, killing two brothers aged 10 and 13 at around 10 p.m. Thursday in Purok Durian, Sitio Batangon.

“Kusog gyud kayo ang ulan” (It rained so heavily), recalled Victoriana Manza, neighbor of the victims whose house was buried as the landslide came crashing down from the other side of the road.

She told MindaNews that the room of the brothers Ronnie, 13 and Roque, 10, was nearest the road and was the first to be hit. Their mother,Mary Jean, stepfather Doming Akel and younger sister, who slept in another room, survived.

A resident of Purok Durian, Sitio Batangon, Brgy Binaton in Digos City, Davao del Sur watches his neighbors’ collapsed home after a landslide caused by heavy rains on Thursday evening, 4 June. Two children died from the landslide trapped inside their home. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETOyounger sister, who slept in another room, survived.

Neighbors said the bodies of the brothers were retrieved at 2 a.m.  

The family’s pet dog was also killed.

“Kung mahimo, i-relocate nato sila”

Mayor Josef Cagas named the victims as Roniel Jay Laguna, 13 and Rochel Laguna, 10.

Cagas gave an update on the landslides in Binaton’s sitios Batangon, Palan and Mahayag late Friday afternoon via Facebook Live, after visiting the areas.

Expressing fear more landslides will happen because of the heavy rains, Cagas asked barangay officials to inform residents in the landslide-prone areas to go on preemptive evacuation  by staying in the gymnasium or in their relatives’ houses in the meantime to ensure their safety.

Cagas also ordered the installation of warning signs along a nine-kilometer stretch, and appealed to residents to vacate the area. “Kung mahimo, i-relocate nato sila” (If possible, let us relocate them), he said. He said the city had earlier purchase land to serve as relocation site for residents in similar circumstances.

He said the city government has provided cash assistance and relief goods to the two families who lost their homes to the landslide.

Earthquake-related

Gil Gubat, his Chief of Staff and head of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, explained during the update that the landslides are related to the five major earthquakes that struck this city and neighboring areas between October and December last year.

He said the quakes caused tension cracks in the sloping areas and water from the heavy rains entered these cracks, causing the landslide.

A portion of the road in Purok Durian, Sitio Batangon, Brgy Binaton in Digos City, Davao del Sur is filled with mud after a landslide caused by heavy rains on Thursday evening, 4 June. The landslide killed two children. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Gubat  said many tension cracks were found in these areas after the quakes last year. “Karon lang man nagkusog ulan so kaaron ra nahitabo” (It’s only now that there is a heavy downpour that’s why it happened), he said.

Geologist Jeffrey Perez, Supervising Science Research Specialist of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology  (Phivolcs) told MindaNews Friday night that  Gubat’s explanation was correct. He said it is likely “pumasok yung water sa mga tension cracks.”

Five above-Magnitude 6 earthquakes jolted parts of Mindanao, including this city, between October 16 and December 15:  Magnitude 6.3 on October 16; 6.6 and 6.1 on October 29; 6.5 on October 31 and 6.9 on December 15. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

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