THE lingering low-pressure area (LPA) that has brought heavy rains in Mindanao and parts of the Visayas could intensify into a cyclone when it reaches the West Philippine Sea, the weather bureau said on Wednesday.
Several towns are in a state of calamity because of flooding and landslides, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported.
The NDRRMC said 299,351 people in 249 barangays in 14 provinces have been affected. The death toll also climbed to 24 and 12 persons are still missing.
The NDRRMC said the affected areas cover 58 municipalities in Regions 9,10,11 and Caraga.
Dozens of roads and 32 bridges were blocked by floods or landslides.
Under a state of calamity are the towns of Kauswagan in Lanao del Norte; Kapalong, Carmen, Asuncion, New Corella and Tagum City in Davao del Norte; and in Santa Josefa, Sibagat and Butuan City in Agusan del Norte.
The Saug and Libuganon rivers in Davao del Norte overflowed, while irrigation dams in Aragon and Barangay Taytayan in Cateel, Davao Oriental were damaged by floods.
Floods also destroyed crops in Davao Oriental.
Five low-lying villages in Montawal, Maguindanao, were flooded when the Kabacan River in North Cotabato swelled after five days of downpour, officials said.
Director Manuel Ochotorena of the Office of Civil Defense in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OCD-ARMM), said no casualty was reported.
Ochotorena said the villages and the town of Datu Montawal sit beside the Liguasan marsh.
The marshland serves as a catchbasin of water from the mountains of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur, North Cotabato and Bukidnon.
Weather forecaster Joey Figuracion said the LPA could become a cyclone once it reaches the West Philippine Sea.
On Wednesday, the LPA was 100 kilometers east of Borongan, Samar.
An LPA “usually has indefinite track unlike tropical cyclones. It may come from westward then suddenly change track to the eastern portion,” Figuracion said.
The LPA blew in from the Pacific Ocean to Mindanao area then moves upward to Visayas area towards the Pacific Ocean. It will then go downward back to Mindanao area going to the West Philippine Sea where it may strengthen and intensify into a cyclone,” he explained.
Last year, 25 towns in Maguindanao and 11 towns in North Cotabato were flooded by rains brought by low-pressure areas.
The weather grounded 18 domestic flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Thousands of passengers were stranded after flights going to Virac, Catanduanes, Cagayan, and Basco Batanes were cancelled.
Affected passengers were advised to call or coordinate with their airlines.
With reports from Benjie L. Vergara, PNA