Catmon waterfall closed after 2 confirmed dead in tragedy

TWO of the three people declared missing Sunday following a rush of water at the Tinubdan Falls in Barangay Tabili, Catmon town, Cebu have been confirmed dead following the recovery of their bodies in separate areas in the town.

Following the incident, the Cebu Police Provincial Office (CPPO) asked the Catmon Municipal Government on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, to temporarily declare the Tinubdan Falls off-limits to tourists.

The body of Kent Jude Monterola, 17, was found stuck in a culvert at 9:58 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26, in Sitio Kansija, Barangay Flores, Catmon some 14 kilometers from where the raging waters had swept him away, Patrolman Renmark Bantisil of the Catmon Police Station said.

Princess Alastra, 7, on the other hand, was found at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, in Sitio Kulo in Barangay Duyan, Catmon, adjacent to Barangay Tabili.

Her mother, Jacel Alastra, 32, remains missing.

The three, who were from Barangay Talangahan, Tuburan town, were swimming at the Tinubdan Falls in the northeastern Cebu town when rushing waters from the waterfall following heavy rain swept them and their companions into the rampaging water.

Surviving the ordeal were Jhea Monterola, Niño Monterola, Christian Monterola, Marieyah Monterola, Elgie Monterola, Jobert Monterola, Jeramie Esponcillia and Odrie Monterola.

Police Colonel Engelbert Soriano of the CPPO said they will assign personnel at the Tinubdan Falls to make sure that no one will go there to swim.

He said they will also put up signs prohibiting swimming at the waterfall, especially since it is still rainy season.

Weather forecasters earlier announced that La Niña will start in October. This means there will be above normal rainfall conditions in the country.

Wilson Ramos, interim information officer of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), urged those who plan to go on outings to check the area beforehand, saying fair weather at the site was not a guarantee of one’s safety.

“No major weather system was monitored such as storms, but there were localized thunderstorms covering Catmon and other northern portions of Cebu,” Ramos said of the conditions in Tinubdan Falls before the noontime tragedy struck.

He advised residents and tourists visiting waterfalls, rivers, seas and even eco-tourism destinations to check the exit points in order to be prepared for disasters.

“Let’s always have presence of mind. Keep a lookout on our surroundings. For example, when you notice the water in a river or in a waterfalls gradually becoming muddy, that’s an early sign of an incoming flash flood,” Ramos added.

PDRRMO head Neil Sanchez said the presence of dark clouds up in the mountain is another indicator of danger.

Sanchez said that prior to the accident, the municipality had voiced plans to develop the waterfall into a tourism destination with tour guides to be trained by the Province to ensure the safety of visitors. (GPL / AYB / LMY)