By Nash B. Maulana
COTABATO CITY—Heavy rains that triggered flash floods and landslides continued to pound over coastlines and high grounds of Maguindanao Norte and this city, an hour after typhoon Paeng, was expected to landfall.
Earlier, the Bangsamoro Region’s Disaster Risk-Reduction Management Council (DRRMC) confirmed that 31 people have died, including at least three children who either drowned in Barangay Tanuel, Datu Odin, or were recovered from huge mass of landslide in Maguindanao Norte’s coastal villages.
Interior and local governments Minister Naguib Sinarimbo, said weather monitoring and search-and-rescue operations went full-swing in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) from dawn, even as professional rescue and retrieval efforts continued after dusk.
Hardest hit, Sinarimbo said, were Datu Blah Sinsuat, Datu Odin Sinsuat, North Upi, Kabuntalan, Parang towns—all in Maguindanao Norte, and Libungan and Pigkawayan in Cotabato Province.
Affected residents trapped in high-waters and roads cut-off by running waters have sent photos to media organizations and emergency Facebook pages, pleading for help
A man in about his mid-50s was reported missing. The man’s body, later identified as Nazario Lorenzo, 54, was found dead.
Nazario, along with his wife Helen Lorenzo, 56, and grandchild Juana Lorenzo, 4, were reported missing amid heavy torrential rains and massive floods in Sitio Lomboy Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao Norte.
The Catholic-run dxMS in this city reported that Nacario’s body was found, as search-and-rescue operations continued in efforts to locate other reported missing residents.
“Unfortunately, it has been confirmed that 31 people have died,” said Andrew Alonto, director of the Bangsamoro Information Office on Friday.
Local authorities said at least five persons died in Datu Blah Sinsuat where a landslide was reported in Linek village, close to an old quarry site in Barangay Dimapatoy
Sinarimbo, who also heads BARMM’s disaster operations office, said regional rescue operations were backed by military and police disaster personnel, mostly in this city and in villages adversely affected in Maguindanao Norte
Sinarimbo said the three municipalities were most-affected by the nightlong heavy downpour, triggering both landslides and flash floods that also caused heavy damage to public infrastructure facilities, including roads and bridges.
He said there were reported fatalities, including two minors in Barangay Tanuel in Datu Odin Sinsuat, and also in Barangay Dimapatoy. Flashflood also swept away coastal houses made of light materials in Barangay Kurintem, in Datu Blah Sinsuat.
In Barangay Pinansaran, Datu Blah Sinsuat in Maguindanao Norte, five persons were also reported killed.
A fire incident also hit a commercial district in Datu Piang, Maguindanao Sur. Rescue operations have continued in Sultan Kudarat town, even as trained BARMM disaster workers were also deployed to other parts of the two provinces.
“Hindi na rin madaanan ang ledepan bridge sa Barangay Kusiong, tumataas na rin ang tubig sa Simuay river,” a disaster official said.
Resident Michelle Lu said flash floods and land slide also took place downslope of Mt. Minamdar, where dozens of houses were literally buried under tons of landslide mass.
She said the road leading to a coastal Amaya Resort was no longer passable due to landslide.
The ones who uploaded the photos pleaded for help for rescue since they would have nowhere to go, Lu said.
“This is fronting the coasts of Illana Bay going to Amaya Beach Resort which is no longer passable,” she added, referring to the photos she had forwarded,” Lu said
“We need a rescue here as several houses were swept away by running floodwaters,” said Lu in a mix of English and Filipino. “Oh Allah Have Mercy upon us, Forgive us, your servants,” Lu said, invoking a supplication in Islam.