SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews / 20 December) — Another dead body and a dismembered hand were retrieved Sunday afternoon, bringing so far five recovered fatalities from the landslide in the interior village of Sibagat in Agusan del Sur.
The recovered cadaver was identified as Robert Cabalquinto, 6, who was among the 11 family members buried by a landslide in the village of Kioya as they were heading to an evacuation center on Thursday amid the onslaught of typhoon “Odette.”
Rolando Buag, head of the town’s emergency operation center, said Cabalquinto’s decomposing body and the mutilated hand were found at the top side part of the Panggabon Waterfalls, prompting the local health office to order the immediate burying of the corpse at the cemetery.
He said the body could have been washed out from the rampaging floodwater of an overflowing creek coming from the landslide site about 150 meters from the waterfalls, where the victims were hit by a fallen Balite tree and buried by the onrush of loosened soil.
Among those buried was a six-month-old infant.
Search and retrieval operations involving the Sibagat Search and Rescue, Bureau of Fire Protection, the local police, soldiers from the 65th Infantry Battalion and the Searchand Rescue Agusan del Sur were widened to ensure that all of the victims’ bodies will be found.
Peregrino Cabalquinto, the surviving patriarch of the 11 victims, told a local TV reporter that the tragic incident devastated him and his wife Roselyn, who also survived.
“I’m really hurt. In just a day, seven of my children, three grandchildren and a son-in-law perished. Now, only five of them were recovered. This is a very painful Christmas present,” Peregrino said, weeping.
He survived as he first cleared an uprooted tree that almost fell into their house. His family’s decision to evacuate was triggered by this incident.
Peregrino was at first clueless about the fate of his family members, who were not around at the evacuation center when he arrived there.
He went back several times to their community to look for them. On Friday, he asked the help of barangay officials to look for his family. They discovered a foot protruding from a mound and started digging.
The bodies of four fatalities initially recovered were Pirelyn C. Sanico, Proylan A. Cabalquinto, Pejie A. Cabalquinto and Arvie A. Cabalquinto.
Still missing are Jaypol M. Sanico, Ploralyn A. Cabalquinto, Babyjane A. Cabalquinto, Zachary Peljay C. Sanico, Ziariah C. Sanico, and Prince Rendel C. Calang. (Chris Panganiban / MindaNews)