AT least two people were killed and thousands fled strong winds and floods as Tropical Depression “Agaton” hit the central Philippines on Tuesday, following back-to-back storms during the Christmas season.
The fatalities were identified as Flora Andrade, 63 and Ritchel Pimentel, 39.
In an interview, Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) Chief Baltazar Tribunalo said that Andrade’s one-story concrete house in Sitio North Suba, Barangay Looc, Malabuyoc was destroyed during a landslide at 4 a.m.
Tribunalo said that Andrade’s house was in an area, which local disaster risk reduction and management office identified as a landslide-prone area.
Tribunalo told The Manila Times that the Cebu PDRRMO team went to Malabuyoc on Monday to warn residents living near the mountains to evacuate.
Tribunalo said that Andrade, a farmer went back inside her house despite the pouring rain and was caught in the landslide.
Tribunalo said that a loud bang was heard before Andrade’s house was buried in mud and huge rocks.
Rescuers searched for Andrade at about 5 a.m. and retrieved her mud-covered body at 7 a.m. She was brought to the Malabuyoc District Hospital where doctors declared her dead on arrival.
Supt. Reymar Tolentin, spokesman of the Central Visayas Regional Police Office, said that a concerned citizen called upon the police to report the landslide.
“Fortunately, the victim’s husband and her three children were able to evacuate from their house,” he said.
Pimentel, an athlete, died when he slipped from the stairs inside his house in Barangay (village) Sto. Niño during a brownout at the height of Agaton’s onslaught.
Tribunalo said Pimentel, who was on vacation for the holidays, was declared dead on arrival at the Rural Health Unit (RHU) after he injured his head in the fall.
Romina Marasigan, spokeswoman for the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDRRMC), said the two reported dead have yet to be confirmed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), being the head agency of the Management for the Dead and Missing cluster of the NDRRMC.
She said the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) also received reports from the PDRRMO.
“We are awaiting the confirmation from the DILG. We have received reports from the Cebu PDRRMO but we are requesting DILG for verification, validation and confirmation about the two reported in the province of Cebu,” Marasigan told reporters.
The NDRRMC also reported that 301 families or 1,287 persons were affected in 10 barangay (villages) in the regions of Central Visayas and Caraga.
Of the number, 285 families or 1,208 persons are currently being served inside eight evacuation centers and 16 families or 79 persons outside the evacuation center.
Marasigan said that citizens have learned from the lessons of “Urduja” (Kai-tak) and “Vinta” (Tembin).
“We could see that there are plenty of people monitoring from time to time. While there are some complaining about our emergency alert and saying it was disturbing them,” she said.
Urduja killed 47 people in the central Philippines in December, while Vinta killed 240 on the southern island of Mindanao.
Palawan accounted for 37 of the recorded Vinta deaths, with 60 other people were still missing, Acosta added.
About 4,000 people across the central Philippines had moved to safer ground to escape high winds and flooding, the national disaster agency in Manila said.
“There is continuous flooding in some towns where the floodwater from the previous storm has yet to subside,” provincial disaster information officer Julius Regner told AFP by telephone from Cebu City.
The Philippines is battered by 20 major storms each year on average, many of them deadly. RHEA RUTH ROSELL, DEMPSEY REYES, AFP