By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Landslides and flash floods spawned by typhoon “Paeng” have already left 42 persons dead, six bridges damaged and 142,163 households affected or displaced in Maguindanao, a component of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) divided recently into two provinces, official reports said.
The BARMM’s Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence (READi), a key unit of the Regional Disaster Risk and Reduction Management operations, said “Paeng” affected 16 towns in Maguindanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Norte, but the havocs were severe in adjoining municipalities of Datu Blah Sinsuat (DBS), Datu Odin Sinsuat (DOS), and North Upi of the latter province where all the fatalities have been accounted so far.
Local media reported on Friday that the death toll had reached 67. But the READi and the allied Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID) on Saturday confirmed only 42 deaths – 27 in DOS, 10 in DBS, and five in North Upi.
Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, BARMM spokesman serving also as the Interior and Local Government minister and head of the READi operations, said the death toll could increase as their rescue and relief campaign continued for dozens of residents reportedly buried alive by landslides on the hillside of Mt. Minandar at Barangay Kusiong in DOS.
Thirty one (31) residents injured in flash floods and landslides have been recovered so far and brought to hospitals, it was learned.
Sinarimbo said BARMM Chief Minister Ahod “Hadji Murad” Ebrahim, after holding an emergency meeting, ordered the Ministry of Public Works to clear streets of mud boulders for relief goods-giving agencies to operate smoothly and rescue transports to shuttle casualties.
The Bangsamoro Information Office, the BARMM’s media agency, said incident command posts (ICPs) were being installed in severely-affected villages of DOS, DBS, and North Upi to harmonize and hasten rescuers’ works.
Sinarimbo earlier underscored the need for choppers for use in rescue and relief operations in areas rendered hard to access by land transport due to destroyed bridges.
In this city, typhoon “Paeng” also spawned floods in nine low-lying villages – barangays Tamontaka 4, Tamontaka 5, Rosary Heights 2, Rosary Heights 9, Rosary Heights 6, Rosary Heights 7, Poblacion 8, Poblacion 9 and Rosary Heights 3.
At least six bridges were damaged, three of which completely derailed in the onslaught of the typhoon. Among the totally damaged bridges were the Tapian Bridge that linked DBS and DOS, and the Nituan Bridge in Parang town, Maguindanao del Norte which used to connect the province to Lanao del Sur and Marawi City. A bridge in Datu Hofer town, Maguindanao del Sur was also rendered impassable.
The BARMM government, through the Ministry of Social Services and Development backed by workers from READi and the Office of the Chief Minister’s “Tabang” special unit, has dispersed teams to distribute relief foods and goods in the typhoon-affected areas. Local government units in the affected towns also purchased relief supplies for their respective constituents, it was learned.
According to a READi tabulation, 150 villages in the two Maguindanao provinces and one in Balabagan, Lanao del Sur have reported displacement involving 142,163 households or 577,496 individuals. (AGM)
PHOTOS: Attached are online-generated photos showing some recovered fatalities, destroyed bridges, shuttling of trapped residents, and inundated areas in the two Maguindanao provinces.