Landslides and flooding killed at least 43 people as heavy rain from Tropical Storm “Paeng” lashed Maguindanao Norte, Cotabato City, and the rest of Visayas and Mindanao, a disaster official said Friday.
The storm (international name Nalgae) unleashed flash floods carrying uprooted trees, rocks, and mud overnight in mainly rural communities around Cotabato, a city of 300,000 people in Mindanao.
Meanwhile, Paeng slightly intensified yesterday afternoon as it roared closer to Metro Manila and other Luzon areas, the state weather bureau said.
In its 8 p.m. update, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the storm was 100 km East Northeast of Catarman, Northern Samar, moving west-northwestward at 25 km/h with maximum sustained winds of 85 km/h near the center and gustiness of up to 105 km/h.
Storm Signal No. 2 has been raised over 28 areas, including Metro Manila and provinces in Bicol Region and the Eastern Visayas, and is moving toward the Albay-Sorsogon area.
Paeng was to make landfall or pass close to Northern Samar on Friday night before crossing Bicol. It could hit land for a second time on the east coast of Quezon province on Saturday, the state weather bureau said in its earlier bulletin.
On Sunday morning, Paeng could make a second landfall over the east coast of Quezon including Polillo Islands or Aurora, PAGASA said.
In Mindanao, many residents were caught by surprise by the rapidly rising floodwaters, Naguib Sinarimbo, the spokesman and civil defense chief for the Bangsamoro regional government, said.
“The water started entering the houses before dawn,” Sinarimbo said, confirming that the death toll in the storm-hit areas had risen to 31, at least three of them children who either drowned or were recovered from a huge landslide mass in parts of Maguindanao Norte’s coastal villages. The storm has also left thousands homeless.
Sinarimbo said 27 died in the town of Datu Odin Sinsuat, including 11 from a mountain village buried in mud, while 10 died in Datu Blah Sinsuat town and five were killed in Upi town.
Teams in rubber boats had to rescue some residents from rooftops, he added.
A landslide killed 11 persons in Barangay Kusiong of Datu Odin Sinsuat, where dozens of homes in the village were buried in mud, authorities added at 8 p.m. yesterday.
Kalibo, the capital of Aklan province in the Visayas, experienced record flooding as three abaca farmers died when they were trapped by floodwaters in Libacao town.
Aklan Governor Jose Enrique M. Miraflores, in a report, said a total of four persons died in Libacao, where one was hurt while two others went missing following devastating floods caused by rain from the shear line and trough of Paeng.
Sinarimbo said search-and-rescue operations went into full swing in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) from dawn.
Hardest hit, Sinarimbo said, were Datu Blah Sinsuat, Datu Odin Sinsuat, North Upi, Kabuntalan, Parang towns—all in Maguindanao Norte, and Libungan and Pigkawayan in Cotabato Province.
Eight persons, including four children, were saved and successfully evacuated by the Disaster Response Task Unit of Tactical Operations Group 12 (Cotabato), Tactical Operations Wing Western Mindanao, the Philippine Air Force said in a statement.
They were among those trapped in the raging waters of Dimapatoy River at Brgy. Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, which overflowed early on October 28, said Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo, Air Force Public Affairs chief.
PAF personnel from TOG 12 and volunteer reservists from the 73rd Air Force Group Reserve (AFGR) continued search, rescue, and retrieval operations and aided the local government’s efforts to bring relief goods for the affected communities.
Pleas for help
Residents trapped by high waters and impassable roads sent photos to media organizations and emergency Facebook pages, pleading for help.
A man in his mid-50s was reported missing. The man’s body, later identified as Nazario Lorenzo, 54, was found dead.
Nazario, along with his wife Helen Lorenzo, 56, and grandchild Juana Lorenzo, 4, were reported missing amid heavy torrential rains and massive floods in Sitio Lomboy Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao Norte.
The Catholic-run dxMS in this city reported that Nacario’s body was found, as search-and-rescue operations continued in efforts to locate other residents who were reported missing.
Local authorities said at least five persons died in Datu Blah Sinsuat where a landslide was reported in Linek village, close to an old quarry site in Barangay Dimapatoy
Sinarimbo, who also heads BARMM’s disaster operations office, said regional rescue operations were backed by military and police disaster personnel, mostly in Cotabato City and in affected villages in Maguindanao Norte
He said the three municipalities were most affected by the nightlong heavy downpour, triggering both landslides and flash floods that also caused heavy damage to roads and bridges.
Sinarimbo said there were reported fatalities, including two minors in Barangay Tanuel in Datu Odin Sinsuat, and in Barangay Dimapatoy.
Flash floods also swept away coastal houses made of light materials in Barangay Kurintem, in Datu Blah Sinsuat.
In Barangay Pinansaran, Datu Blah Sinsuat in Maguindanao Norte, five persons were also reported killed.
Resident Michelle Lu said flash floods and landslides hit the downslope of Mt. Minamdar, where dozens of houses were buried under tons of landslide mass.
She said the road leading to a coastal Amaya Resort was no longer passable due to a landslide.
People who uploaded photos said they had nowhere to go, Lu said.
“This is fronting the coasts of Illana Bay going to Amaya Beach Resort which is no longer passable,” she added, referring to the photos she had forwarded.
“We need a rescue here as several houses were swept away by running floodwaters,” Lu said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Local filmmaker Remar Pablo said he was shooting a beauty pageant in the town of Upi when the floodwaters suddenly came in after midnight and forced audience members to flee for safety.
A row of cars sat half-submerged on the street outside, his clips showed.
“We were stranded inside,” said Pablo, who eventually waded into the water to get home.
Rescuers carried a baby in a plastic tub as they waded through chest-deep water, a photo posted by the provincial police showed.
‘It was a shock’
Floodwaters have receded in several areas, but Cotabato City remained almost entirely waterlogged.
Sinarimbo said there could be more flooding on Friday because of heavy rain.
“Our focus at this time is rescue as well as setting up community kitchens for the survivors,” he said.
The army deployed its trucks to collect stranded residents in Cotabato and eight nearby towns, provincial civil defense chief Nasrullah Imam said.
“It was a shock to see municipalities which had never flooded getting hit this time,” Imam said, adding that some families were swept away when the waters hit their homes.
The heavy rainfall began late Thursday in the region, which is under Muslim self-rule after decades of separatist armed rebellion.
Paeng was heading toward the northern or central sections of the Philippines, with the state weather service saying it was not ruling out a landfall on Samar Island later Friday—much earlier than it had forecast.
Nearly 5,000 people were evacuated from flood- and landslide-prone communities in these areas, the civil defense office said.
The coast guard also suspended ferry services in much of the country.
Authorities in Eastern Visayas were on high alert as Paeng brought torrential rains, causing floods in several towns in the region Friday.
At least four fishermen were rescued after their boat capsized due to strong waves off the waters of San Francisco, Southern Leyte.
A 64-year-old fisherman was also reported missing in Barangay Veloso, Marabut, Samar.
In Barangay Dolho, Bato, Leyte, several houses were destroyed due to flooding.
Sub-field officers of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said they were closely coordinating with the local government units should they need resources and support.
The agency has already prepositioned some 37,515 family food packs and 14,342 non-food items in various strategic locations in the region.
As of 5 p.m. Friday, a total of 196 evacuation centers were identified across the region. Some 742 families sought refuge in these centers.
Classes were suspended across the region.
In an update Friday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Paeng has so far affected 1,322 families or 5,266 persons while it continues to move closer to the country’s landmass.
These families were residing in 33 barangays located in Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, and Eastern Visayas, the NDRRMC said.
About 20 evacuation centers were activated, sheltering 862 families or 3,348 individuals.
Damaged houses are placed at seven—all in Western Visayas.
Around 1,402 families or 4,975 persons were preemptively evacuated in Bicol and Western Visayas.
On Friday, Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna ordered the preparation of evacuation sites, relief goods, and emergency equipment in anticipation of Paeng’s onslaught.
The order was issued during the coordination meeting with the Manila Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO).
Lacuna also said the city government is considering the closure of public cemeteries once Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 2 is raised to ensure the safety of the people.
At the same time, the MDRRMO is on red alert for continuous monitoring and preparation.
Classes from Kinder to Grade 12 in all public and private schools in the city were suspended on Friday.
Malacanang urged the public to be alert during disasters.