MGB urges transfer of residents away from critical GenSan river

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 15 Nov) – The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) has recommended the relocation of residents near a critical river here due to the possible occurrence of flash floods and debris flow.

Ariel Austin Acosta, MGB-12 supervising geologist, issued the recommendation on Monday in the wake of the impounding of huge volumes of water in the upper portion of the Klaja River in Barangay Conel here following a major landslide in the area last week.

He said the “landslide dam,” which formed after a portion of a nearby mountain gave way last Nov. 9, could eventually collapse and trigger flash floods in the low-lying areas.

Based on an ocular inspection earlier conducted by the city government, around 500 to 800 meters of soil reportedly fell into the river and caused the impounding of an estimated 30 to 40 feet of water.

Acosta, who led the assessment of the site over the weekend, said the impounded water poses danger to the nearby residents.

“For a long-term solution, we need to relocate all the houses adjacent to Klaja because it is prone to flashflood and debris flow,” he said in an interview over radio station Bombo Radyo.

If the immediate relocation is not possible, he said the preemptive evacuation of residents should be implemented during heavy rains.

MGB-12 identified the Klaja River last April as among the areas in the city that are prone to flash floods and debris flow based on its updated geohazard assessment.

The agency has recorded landslides in the 1990s near the latest subsidence in Sitio Pulatbo of Conel, which is adjacent to Purok 15 of Barangay Mabuhay.

Acosta said the impounded water could further increase since at least four upstream tributaries drain to the Klaja River.

He said that although there are no houses in the surrounding area, it could eventually affect the lower portions of the river and its outlets, especially the Buayan River.

The site should be declared off-limits to residents and visitors as it was observed that the soil blocking the river already has water seeping from it, he added.

“It means that the soil is soft already and starting to liquefy, and might eventually give way,” he explained.

Acosta said the local government, especially the barangay, should assign a team that will regularly monitor the site and alert residents in case of possible disasters.

Dr. Agripino Dacera Jr., head of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said no residents were affected in last week’s landslide although there were some crops that were reportedly destroyed.

He said they already alerted the nearby residents and are working on the necessary interventions to prevent possible disasters.

“It is a cause for alarm, but there’s no need to panic. We don’t see any serious threat coming from it and rest assured that we will do something about it,” he said. (MindaNews)