1 dead, hundreds evacuate due to flood, landslides in S. Cotabato

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 09 March) – At least one person died while hundreds were displaced by flash floods and landslides due to continuous heavy rains spawned by a low pressure area late Tuesday afternoon in scenic Lake Sebu, the tourism capital of South Cotabato province, officials said Wednesday.

Lake Sebu flash flood victims take refuge at the Barangay Poblacion gymnasium. Photo courtesy of the Lake Sebu Municipal Information Office

Lake Sebu Mayor Floro Gandam suspended classes today in all levels in both public and private schools to ensure the safety of teachers and students who might be going to their schools for their class modules.

“This is the first time in Lake Sebu that people evacuated due to flooding. I was born and raised here. The flood water was rampaging, bringing with it boulders and fallen trees,” the mayor said in a radio interview.
 
Rolly Doane Aquino, head of the South Cotabato Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), said that rescuers recovered the dead body of a missing person early Wednesday morning.
 
Aquino said the dead body was recovered 800 meters away from the bridge where the incident happened.
 
The PDRRMO team responded Tuesday afternoon to the flooding and landslide incidents in Lake Sebu and assisted their municipal counterparts, he added.
 
Gandam said the victim was reportedly a teacher, whose companion survived the ordeal by clinging to a bamboo.
 
Chris Ofong, municipal information officer, said that the Trankini River overflowed, submerging parts of barangays Poblacion and Lamlahak.
 
Citing a report from the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, Ofong said that at least 383 individuals sought refuge in various evacuation centers to stay safe for the night.
 
Local officials were still assessing the damage of the flood, which washed out houses, submerged palay farms and destroyed tilapia fish cages.
 
Lake Sebu town is the premier tourist destination in South Cotabato. With a cool climate, it is famous for its seven waterfalls and the three lakes. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)