Tembin leaves a deadly trail

Dozens are still missing as tropical storm batters two more provinces in southern Philippines

Manila


Local government officials declared a state of calamity in a southern Philippine province as at least 133 people died and 47 were reported missing amid landslides and flash floods brought about by Tropical Storm Tembin. The storm created havoc in two more southern provinces even as it was predicted to turn back into the South China Sea today, officials said.

“The local government unit placed the entire province of Lanai del Norte under a state of calamity. The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council will use five per cent of the region’s calamity fund to augment money to help Lanai’s 11 severely flooded municipalities such as Bacolod, Kapatagan, Kauswagan, Kolambugan, Lala, Maigo, Munai, Salvador, Tangcal, Sapad, and Tubod,” Vice-Governor Maria Cristina Atay wrote in a report that reached the Manila office of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) yesterday.

“Some 43 bodies, including children were retrieved in search and retrieval operation in affected areas as of 11am Saturday,” said Atay who expressed the fear that the number of dead could exceed 120.

Earlier, when landslides and flash floods affected Lanai del Norte’s 10 towns including Bacolod, Kapatagan, Kauswagan, Kolambugan, Lala, Maigo, Munai, Salvador, Tungcal, and Sapad, only 25 people had been confirmed dead, and 44 were reported missing, said Atay.

Narrating the devastation caused at the outset of the storm, Saripada Pacasum Jr. of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) of Lanai del Norte told NDRRMC in Manila: “Eight people, including children, were instantly killed and three more went missing in Tubod town where four farming villages such as Madalum, Tamparan, Tugaya, and Wao were hit by landslides as big as cars, after rain waters cascaded from mountain slopes on Friday night.

“I hope the number of the dead and missing will not increase further during ongoing rescue operations.”

But the number of fatalities could further increase because landslides and floods were also reported in other nearby provinces such as Cagayan de Oro City and Zamboanga del Norte.

5,000 families displaced

Landslides and swollen rivers swallowed more than 200 houses and damaged major highways that remained impassable in Lanai del Norte, said Pacasum, adding some 5,295 families or 10,189 people were displaced and placed at 30 evacuation areas in day care centres, mosques, and schools.

“The local government unit of Lanai del Norte was prepared for Tembin’s arrival. But residents remained in landslide-prone municipalities despite early warnings aired on Thursday,” said Pacasum.

Pagasa, the government-run weather station, predicted Tembin was headed towards the South China Sea today.

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