Home » At least 42 dead in floods, landslides in south Philippines

At least 42 dead in floods, landslides in south Philippines

by Mahmmod Shar

Philippine officials say torrential rains set off flash floods and landslides that swamped a southern province, killing at least 42 people and leaving 16 others missing

ByThe Associated Press

COTABATO, Philippines — Flash floods and landslides set off by torrential rains swamped a southern Philippine province, killing at least 42 people, leaving 16 others missing and trapping some residents on their roofs, officials said Friday.

Most of the victims were swept away by rampaging floodwaters and drowned or were hit by debris-filled mudslides in three towns in hard-hit Maguindanao province, said Naguib Sinarimbo, the interior minister for a five-province Muslim autonomous region run by former guerrillas.

The unusually intense rains were triggered by Tropical Storm Nalgae, which was expected to slam into the country’s eastern coast from the Pacific Ocean on Saturday, forecasters said.

The stormy weather prompted the coast guard to prohibit sea travel in dangerously rough seas as millions of Filipinos planned to travel over a long weekend to visit the tombs of relatives and for family reunions on All Saints’ Day in the largely Roman Catholic nation.

“The amount of rainwater that came down overnight was unusually (heavy) and flowed down mountainsides and swelled rivers,” Sinarimbo told The Associated Press by telephone.

“I hope the casualty numbers won’t rise further but there are still a few communities we haven’t reached,” Sinarimbo said, adding the rains had eased since Friday morning, causing floods to start to recede in several towns.

Sinarimbo said based on reports from mayors, governors and disaster-response officials, 27 died mostly by drowning and landslides in Datu Odin Sinsuat town, 10 in Datu Blah Sinsuat town and five others in Upi town, all in Maguindanao.

Six people were missing in Datu Blah Sinsuat and 10 others in Upi, Sinarimbo said.

A rescue team reported that the bodies of at least 11 villagers were recovered in Kusiong, a tribal village at the foot of a mountain in Datu Odin Sinsuat, where floods and landslides also hit houses in the community, Sinarimbo said.

“They were able to rescue some earlier but now they’re only trying to dig up bodies there,” he said, adding it was uncertain how many were missing in Kusiong because of confusion after the tragedy struck the community.

At least 42 storm fatalities were also reported in Maguindanao, according to army officials, who also said that their forces were “continuing to rescue those trapped in the flood in collaboration with local disaster teams” and transporting the displaced in army trucks to evacuation camps.

In a mountainous area with marshy plains, the unusually heavy rains inundated several towns in Maguindanao and outlying provinces. Many low-lying villages saw rapid rises in floodwaters that forced some residents to climb onto their roofs, where they were saved by army personnel, police officers, and volunteers, according to Sinarimbo.

Many of the flooded areas, including Cotabato city, where Sinarimbo claimed his house was flooded, had not experienced flooding in many years.

Disaster-response officer Nasrullah Imam described a town in Maguindanao that had been completely submerged by floodwaters as having “only the attic of a school can be seen above the floodwater in one area in Upi.”

Nalgae, the 16th storm to hit the Philippine archipelago this year, was able to dump rain in the south of the nation despite blowing farther north, according to government forecaster Sam Duran.

The storm, which had sustained winds of up to 85 kilometers per hour (53 miles per hour) and was moving northwest late on Friday afternoon, was located about 180 kilometers (110 miles) east of Catarman town in Northern Samar province.

Numerous provinces and cities, including the capital of Manila, were on storm alert. The coast guard claimed that by forbidding fishing, cargo, and inter-island ferries from heading out to sea, thousands of passengers were left stranded.

In order to protect them from the storm’s path, about 5,000 people were moved out of the way, according to government forecasters and other officials. The storm was not anticipated to intensify into a typhoon as it approached land.

Each year, the archipelago of the Philippines is hit by about 20 typhoons and storms. Its location on the “Ring of Fire” of the Pacific Ocean, where frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions take place, makes the country one of the most disaster-prone in the world.


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