‘Agaton’ kills 20, causes 13,000 to flee in Vismin

AT LEAST 20 people have been killed following landslides in Baybay City, Leyte amid incessant and heavy rains brought by tropical cyclone “Agaton.”Jeko Guevarra of the Baybay City Emergency Rescue Unit (BERU) confirmed past 5 p.m. Monday, April 11, 2022 that landslides had occurred in 10 barangays and that 20 people had been killed.Some of the corpses had been retrieved, while others had been washed away by the floodwaters.Landslides occurred in Barangays Can-ipa, Mailhi, Bunga, Gacat, Kantagnos, Bubon, Imelda, Makinhas, Maypatag and Villa Solidaridad.In Barangay Mailhi, 14 bodies were unearthed, three in Kantugnos, two in Maypatag and one in Bunga.Sixteen of the 20 dead had been taken to the morgue, of whom three were children and 13 were adults.As of press time, some of the dead had yet to be picked up due to the difficulty getting to the site while retrieval operations which are ongoing may be stymied by the heavy rains.BERU has called for additional rescue teams from elsewhere to expedite its retrieval operation.Guevarra also said the city’s electricity is not yet stable, while the telecommunication signals are also slow and unstable.Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez quickly sent aid to Baybay, dispatching the Ormoc Rescue Team, a medical team from the City Health Office, a doctor and three nurses, medicines, hospital beds, first aid kits and generator sets.Gomez said when Ormoc was in need, Baybay sent aid, so it was now Ormoc’s turn to help Baybay in its time of need.On Monday, a rescue operation was ongoing for a family of five whose house was buried by a landslide in Barangay Can-ipa past 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 10, 2022.The police and emergency responders from the Beru immediately conducted the retrieval operation but suspended it at 6 p.m. Sunday due to strong winds and heavy rains. They resumed the rescue operation at 5 a.m. Monday, April 11, 2022.As of this posting Monday, the victims identified as Delfin Moraga, Carmencita Moraga, Michelle Rulona, Raymart Rulona and Rey Mitchelle Rulona had not yet been found.To recall, a massive landslide also took place in Leyte, particularly in Barangay Guinsa-ugon, St. Bernard town on Feb. 17, 2006.Nearly 2,000 people, including 200 school children, were buried alive during the tragedy when a rain-soaked portion of Mt. Kan-abag overlooking Guinsagon collapsed, burying the entire village.EvacuationOver 13,000 individuals fled to evacuation centers in Visayas and Mindanao due to the onslaught of Tropical Depression Agaton (Megi), the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said on Monday, April 11, 2022.The NDRRMC said 13,049 people or 3,717 families are now staying in evacuation centers in the affected regions, including the Western, Central and Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Davao, Soccsksargen, Caraga and Bangsamoro.It said 86,515 families or 136,390 people in 201 barangays were affected by the weather system.The bureau has tallied a total of 49 damaged houses in Central Visayas, Davao and Caraga, while the agricultural and infrastructure damage in Soccsksargen and Bangsamoro was initially pegged at P874,000.State of calamityOn Sunday, April 10, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama declared a state of calamity due to the effects of Agaton.The municipality of Cateel in Davao Oriental has also been placed under a state of calamity due to “severe flooding.”Gerardo Carillo, chairman of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC), said Monday the declaration will allow the local government unit (LGU) to use its calamity funds to provide relief assistance to the affected residents.Carillo said a total of 200 families with 600 individuals were evacuated due to the threat of possible landslides and flash floods. They are now housed in different evacuation sites in the city,He said no casualties had been recorded so far in the city amid the onslaught of TD Agaton.The CDRRMC recommended the declaration to Mayor Rama after multiple landslides were recorded in Barangays Pamutan, Bonbon and Busay after the heavy rainfall on Sunday.On Monday, clearing operations were conducted by the CDRRMO and the Department of Engineering and Public Works in the mountain barangays after the persistent rains resulted in 11 minor rockfall and landslide incidents.Rivers and tributaries in the lowland barangays were also being cleared from any debris that may block the flow of the water coming from the mountains, said Carillo.Clearing operations were implemented in Barangays Pamutan, Buhisan, Sinsin, Sapangdako, Labangon, Mabolo and Mambaling.In Mabolo, Carillo said a wall collapsed but residents living near the wall had been evacuated before the incident occurred.Carillo added that the continuous rains caused 16 electric posts to catch fire as electrical live wires got exposed to water. These incidents have caused a power outage in some barangays in the city.Rama also suspended classes on all levels in both private and public schools. Work in private and government offices was also canceled by the mayor.The CDRRMC lifted the state of calamity past 6 p.m. Monday, and recommended the resumption of work and in-person classes.Blue alertThe disaster management offices of both Mandaue City and Cebu Province remained under blue alert Monday despite Agaton having weakened from a tropical storm into a tropical depression.Wilson Ramos, interim officer of the Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), said: “Although Agaton has become a tropical depression, we are still watching for rain. … You can just expect a good climate by Wednesday afternoon or on Thursday.”According to the PDRRMO’s assessment from April 9 to 11, a house was covered with large rocks in Purok Proper Kaliktay, Barangay Jaguimit in the City of Naga due to heavy rains.Five fishermen were also rescued during this time after their boat sank due to the strong impact of the tide. The fishermen are in stable condition.A total of 36 families in Barangay Mangga in Tuburan town were also evacuated due to rising flood waters.A similar situation occurred in San Remigio town where 57 families were evacuated; up to 20 families were also evacuated in Minglanilla town, nine families in San Francisco, Camotes, and five families in Sogod town.The families are now in evacuation centers.The Asturias municipal government also announced that the national road in Barangay Lunas was still impassable due to floodwaters on the road. All motorists are advised to pass through Sta Lucia-Lunas via Panas Road.Karlo Cabahug, Mandaue City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) Research and Planning Head, told reporters the CDRRMO is closely monitoring Agaton and the upcoming tropical cyclone “Malakas” that will enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) as “Basyang” on the evening of Monday, April 11, or early morning of Tuesday.Both weather disturbances are expected to bring more heavy rains as they stay along the PAR, increasing the water levels in different rivers in the city.As per the CDRRMO, there are no preemptive evacuations ordered yet in the city’s flood-prone areas.Some of the flood-prone areas monitored by the CDRRMO are the Butuanon River and the Mahiga Creek.StrandedMeanwhile, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) commandant Admiral Artemio Abu said 1,813 passengers were stranded in the ports of Bicol, Eastern Visayas and northeastern Mindanao due to bad weather.In Central Visayas, Lt. Krysta Bergantin, operations officer of PCG-Cebu, said up to 525 individuals were stranded in the ports of Central Visayas as of Monday afternoon.Bergantin said there was an increase in the number of passengers from morning to 6 p.m. Monday after the trips of 15 ships were canceled.A total of 128 rolling cargoes were stranded at various ports in Cebu.Most of the stranded were in northern Cebu ports, at 465 passengers and 82 rolling cargoes.In Central Cebu, 25 passengers and 35 rolling cargoes were stranded, while in southern Cebu, the figures were 35 passengers and 11 rolling cargoes.Bergantin said sea trips had been suspended since Agaton’s effects were felt in Cebu.Agaton weakensAs of 10 a.m. Monday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said, Agaton had continued to weaken but remained almost stationary over San Pablo Bay.Agaton was spotted over the coastal waters of Tanauan, Leyte with maximum sustained winds of 45 kilometers per hour near the center and gusts of up to 60 kilometer per hour.As of 4 p.m. Monday, the center of Agaton was estimated to be in the vicinity of Basey, Samar, still with the same wind intensity.Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal Number 1 remained hoisted over the southern portion of Masbate (Dimasalang, Palanas, Cataingan, Pio V. Corpuz, Esperanza, Placer and Cawayan); Eastern Samar, Samar, Northern Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, the northeastern portion of Cebu (Daanbantayan, San Remigio, Medellin, City of Bogo, Tabogon, Borbon, Sogod, Catmon, Carmen, Danao City, Compostela and Liloan) including the Camotes Islands, the eastern portion of Bohol (Getafe, Talibon, Bien Unido, Trinidad, Ubay, San Miguel, Pres. Carlos P. Garcia and Mabini); Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands.On Tuesday, April 12, there will be moderate to heavy with at times intense rains over Eastern Visyas, Capiz, Aklan, Iloilo, Antique, the northern portions of Negros Provinces, and the northern portion of Cebu including Bantanyan Islands and Camotes Islands, and light to moderate with at times heavy rains over Sorsogon, Masbate, Romblon, and the rest of Visayas.Based on its forecast intensity, Agaton may further weaken into a remnant low by Wednesday evening, April 13, as it becomes assimilated within the circulation of Malakas, Pagasa added. (TPM, IRT, HIC, PAC, ANV, CTL, JKDP / TPT / SunStar Philippines)