The island of Leyte, one of the areas hard hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda, have “danger zones” that are not fit for human settlement and threaten the livelihoods of people.
A new study published by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) showed there are again households within the four-kilometer danger zone of the Guinsaugon area of Leyte, which threatens the people and their livelihoods.
Based on the research led by Dr. Beatriz Jadina of the Visayas State University titled “GIS-aided Biophysical Characterization of Southern Leyte Landscape in Relation to Landslide Occurrences,” there are numerous residents in that area still exposed to danger.
“These residents should be advised to leave the area since there is still the possibility of landslides,” she asserted. According to her, landslides are likely to again occur in areas with “landslide history” within half a decade.
Based on the study’s results, Jadina recommended that mountainous terrains within danger zones should not be used for human settlement.
Jadina recommended that each town should establish its own rain gauge station and a landslide action center with an early warning system to prepare for catastrophic consequences of landslides.
More than 6,000 people on Leyte Island have died in catastrophic landslides that hit the island over the past two decades, according to the study.
The research project characterized and produced maps of the landscape attributes of landslide-prone areas in Southern Leyte, and determined the major factors influencing landslide occurrences.
Jadina recorded that Leyte Island has the “worst landslide history in the Philippines.”
In November 1991, a massive landslide caused by continuous heavy rain swept Ormoc City, Leyte, sending more than 5,000 people to their “watery graves.”
On December 19, 2003, about 200 people died in another landslide that took place on Panaon Island in Southern Leyte.
On December 17, 2006, more than 1,000 people were buried alive in a landslide in Barangay Guinsaugon, St. Bernard, Southern Leyte described by Jadina as “the most catastrophic event in recent times.”