(INQUIRER) By Karlos Manlupig Inquirer Mindanao - More than 50,000 people were forced to leave their homes in six North Cotabato towns on Friday evening as floodwaters rose to dangerous levels and threatened their safety, North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza reported Saturday.

Mendoza said a total of 26 villages were now submerged in the towns of Carmen, Kabacan, Matalam, Mlang, President Roxas and Tulunan when rivers overflowed starting Friday evening.

Two houses in Tulunan were also buried in mud and debris during a landslide, she said.

Mendoza said the good news was that there had been no casualties reported so far.


Thousands flee North Cotabato floods Written by Tribune Sunday, 16 June 2013 08:00

Tens of thousands of people have been affected by flooding in North Cotabato following heavy rains the past three days. Thousands of hectares of crops and hundreds of houses have also been destroyed.

According to the North Cotabato Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, close to 50,000 persons have been affected by floods while the damage to agricultural products is yet to be determined.

This was the second natural calamity that hit North Cotabato after the 5.7 magnitude earthquake in Carmen town that destroyed houses, school buildings and infrastructures amounting to P75 million.

It also led to the declaration of state of calamity in the province.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division spokesman, said elements of the 40th and 7th Infantry Battalions are now helping evacuate villagers away from their flooded communities where water level reached neck level Friday night.

In Mlang, North Cotabato, 11 villages have been submerged by floodwater due to Thursday to Saturday morning downpour.

All families previously displaced in the villages of New Janiuay, Bagontapay, Buayan, Lepaga, Gaunan, Dugong, Dungoan, Inas, Bialong, Lika and New Antique returned home Saturday morning.

At least 70 families in low lying villages of Minapan in Tulunan were evacuated by the local government unit after the Minampan and Maybula rivers overflowed.

Also, portions of the Cotabato-Davao highway, particularly in the towns of Pagalungan and Pagagawan in Maguindanao were filled with residents who were forced to evacuate to higher grounds after heavy rains on Thursday and Friday night which inundated the Liguasan marshland and Kabacan River.

Aside from Pagagawan and Pagalungan, also flooded were the towns of Sultan sa Barongis, Datu Piang, Talitay, Talayan, Guindulungan, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Kabuntalan Mother, Sultan Mastura, Sultan Kudarat and Northern Kabuntalan, all lie around the Liguasan marshland.

Thousands of rice and corn fields were destroyed by rampaging water after an overnight heavy downpour that also flooded the upland towns of Magpet, Arakan, President Roxas, Matalam, Makilala and Tulunan, also in North Cotabato.
There are no reports of casualties as of posting.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) yesterday issued a flash flood and landslide warning over some parts of Mindanao as the low pressure area (LPA) near Davao City is expected to dump moderate to heavy rains over the region.

In an interview, weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio said as of 4 a.m. Saturday, the LPA was spotted at 345 km east of Davao City embedded along the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ).

He added the LPA also has a chance of intensifying into a tropical depression while at sea.

If the LPA strengthens into a tropical depression, Aurelio said it will be named “Emong” — the fifth storm to hit the country this year.

Aurelio said the regions of Caraga, Davao and Soccskargen will experience cloudy skies with moderate to occasionally heavy rain showers and thunderstorms which may trigger flash floods and landslides.

He said other parts of the country, including Luzon and the Visayas, may expect rain as well due to the southwest monsoon.

In its advisory, PAGASA said the Ilocos region, Visayas, the rest of Mindanao and the provinces of Zambales, Bataan, Cavite, Batangas, Mindoro and Palawan will be cloudy with light to moderate rain showers and thunderstorms.

Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms.

Pagasa added moderate to strong winds from the southwest to southeast will prevail over the western section of Luzon and its coastal waters will be moderate to rough.

Light to moderate winds coming from the southeast will prevail over the rest of Luzon and coming from the northeast to northwest over Visayas and Mindanao with slight to moderate seas, it added. PNA

2 dead, 4 missing as Ro-Ro ferry sinks By Mar Arguelles, Shiena M. Barrameda Inquirer Southern Luzon 2:59 am | Saturday, June 15th, 2013

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines—Poor lashing of a bus onboard may have caused a ferry to tilt off balance and sink off Burias Island in Masbate province early Friday, killing two people and leaving four others missing.

Rescuers from the Philippine Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force saved 55 passengers and crew of the ferry MV Lady of Mount Carmel, according to Bernardo Alejandro, head of the Office of Civil Defense in Bicol province.

Two of those rescued were minors, 9-year-old Alexandra Tan and 7-month-old Kyle Benguet.

Four people remained missing as of 5 p.m., according to the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard identified the passengers who died as Erlinda Jolbitado, 59, and Carlota Singa (spelled Zena by the Office of Civil Defense), 57. Both were from Pasig City.

The roll-on, roll-off ferry left port at Pio Duran town in Albay province at 2 a.m. with 57 people aboard—35 passengers (20 women and 15 men) and 22 crew members.

Alejandro said seven people were not listed on the ferry’s manifest, including the drivers and conductors of two buses and a six-wheel truck that were on the vessel.

The names of the missing remained unknown, he said.

The ferry was bound for Aroroy town in Masbate province but sank three hours after leaving Pio Duran. It went down near Burias Island, 20 kilometers across the strait.

The Coast Guard said the cause of the sinking remained unknown as of 5 p.m. on Friday.

“We will just finish the search and rescue operations then we will begin our formal investigation. But even now we are gathering facts,” said Cmdr. Armand Balilo, spokesperson for the Coast Guard.

The weather was calm and apparently did not cause the sinking, according to the ferry’s captain, Lando Mateo, who was among those rescued.

Alejandro said the authorities were looking at the possibility that a mechanical or human error caused the ferry to sink.

Poor lashing

But Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said in a statement that he received information that the ropes used to lash one of the buses to the sides of the ferry came loose, causing the vehicle to slide to one side of the ferry, making the vessel list and ultimately lose its balance and sink.

The ferry, which regularly plied the Pio Duran-Aroroy route, is owned by Medallion Shipping Lines of Cebu City.

Alejandro said the civil defense office learned about the accident from Pio Duran Mayor Dante Arandia, who called Salceda before 3 a.m. telling him that he received a distress call from a passenger, who said the ferry began to list about 30 minutes after leaving port.

Help from Albay

Salceda ordered search and rescue teams to the site.

Coast Guard rescuers reached most of the people on the ferry about 1.6 km from shore, where the vessel sank, according to Chief Petty Officer Bayani Belesario, deputy Coast Guard commander for Masbate.

Amadeo Tan, a village chief in Aroroy, said his wife called him from the ferry when it was sinking.

Tan told a television interviewer that he alerted local authorities and set off to the area.

“When we got there, we could no longer see any part of the boat. It had already sunk,” he said, adding some passengers were in the water wearing life vests or were on a lifeboat.

Balilo said the rescued passengers and crew were taken to Aroroy.

The bodies of the two fatalities were also taken to Aroroy, Balilo said.

The rescuers

He said fishing boats and a sister vessel of the MV Lady of Mount Carmel, the MV Lady of the Rosary, joined Coast Guard and Navy ships in the rescue operation.

A Coast Guard vessel that was sailing to Indonesia, the BRP Pampanga, was diverted to help in the search and rescue operation, Balilo said.

Ensign John Duruin, deputy spokesperson for the Navy in Bicol province, said two Navy boats and a Navy Islander aircraft, and an Air Force helicopter helped scour the sea for survivors of the accident. With reports from Tina G. Santos and Ramon Royandoyan in Manila and AP

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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