50 dead, dozens feared missing as storm lashes Philippines

FLASH floods and landslides set off by torrential rains left at least 50 people dead, including residents of Maguindanao, where as many as 60 villagers are feared missing and buried in a huge mudslide laden with rocks, trees and debris, officials said Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022.

At least 42 people were swept away by rampaging floodwaters and drowned or were hit by debris-filled mudslides in three towns in the Mindanao province from Thursday night, Oct.

27, to early Friday, Oct. 28, said Naguib Sinarimbo, the interior minister for the five-province Muslim autonomous region governed by former separatist guerrillas.

Eight other people died elsewhere in the country from the onslaught of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng (Nalgae), which slammed into Camarines Sur early Saturday, the government’s disaster response agency said.

But the worst storm impact so far was a mudslide that buried dozens of houses with as many as 60 people in the tribal village of Kusiong in Maguindanao’s Datu Odin Sinsuat town, Sinarimbo said.

In Cebu, there was no report of death or injury as of Saturday night, but a landslide in Sitio Garahe in the mountain barangay of Busay, Cebu City swept four homes, including the house of Barangay Captain Ma. Christia Famador.

Jenivy Famador, Christia’s niece, said she and her aunt were both out when it happened around 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Jenivy, who lives with the barangay captain, said she was on her way to another relative’s house in NHA Village when she received a photo of the incident on her cellphone, prompting her to rush back home.

Christia, who was attending an assembly at the barangay hall, also rushed home when she received the news.

When they arrived at the scene, they saw a gaping hole where the house once stood. It had settled at the bottom of the ravine along with three other houses and tons of soil and other debris.

The barangay is monitoring three houses, which are also in danger of sliding down the slope as the rain-soaked ground continues to shake while water from higher ground continues to flow down the road.

Several residents have already evacuated with their possessions.

Intermittent rains since Wednesday due to Paeng may have loosened the soil that caused the landslide.

Because of the landslide, four-wheel vehicles from Cebu City going to Balamban town in the western side of Cebu Island and vice versa have to take a detour to Barangay Babag 2 when they get to Sitio Garahe.

Meanwhile, only motorcycles are allowed to use the road going to the neighboring barangay of Malubog, but vehicles from Malubog have been allowed to leave one by one to decongest the area.

Meanwhile, Army Lt. Col. Dennis Almorato, who went to the mudslide-hit community in Maguindanao on Saturday, said the muddy deluge buried about 60 rural houses in a five-hectare section of the community.

At least 13 bodies, mostly of children, were dug up Friday and Saturday by rescuers in Kusiong, Sinarimbo said.

“That community will be our ground zero today,” he said.

Citing reports from mayors, governors and disaster-response officials, Sinarimbo said 27 died mostly by drowning and landslides in Datu Odin Sinsuat town, 10 in Datu Blah Sinsuat town and five in Upi town.

The stormy weather in a large swath of the country prompted the Coast Guard to prohibit sea travel in dangerously rough seas as millions of Filipinos planned to travel over a long weekend for visits to relatives’ tombs and for family reunions on All Saints’ Day in the largely Roman Catholic nation.

Several domestic flights have also been canceled, stranding thousands of passengers.

More than 158,000 people in several provinces were evacuated away from the path of the storm, officials said.

Paeng has maintained its strength after it made its fifth landfall in Sariaya, Quezon at 1:40 p.m. on Saturday.

Paeng first hit land at 1:10 a.m. on Saturday in Virac, Catanduanes, followed by another in Caramoan, Camarines Sur (1:40 a.m.), then in Buenavista, Quezon (6 a.m.) and in Santa Cruz, Marinduque at 8:40 a.m.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said that as of 4 p.m. Saturday, the center of Paeng was located in the vicinity of San Pablo City, Laguna.

It was packing maximum winds of 95 kilometers per hour (km/h) near the center, gusts of up to 160 km/h, and central pressure of 985 hPa. It was moving northwestward at 20 km/h.

Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal (TCWS) Number 3 remained in effect in some areas in Luzon, including Metro Manila. The northern and central portions of Cebu (Daanbantayan, Medellin, San Remigio, Tabogon, City of Bogo, Borbon, Tabuelan, Sogod, Catmon, Tuburan, Carmen, Danao City, Asturias, Balamban, Compostela, Toledo City, Pinamungahan, Cebu City, Mandaue City, Consolacion, Liloan, Lapu-Lapu City, Aloguinsan, Minglanilla, City of Talisay, City of Naga, San Fernando, City of Carcar, Barili), including Bantayan and Camotes Islands, and other parts of the Visayas remained under TCWS 1.

In its 5 p.m. Saturday advisory, Pagasa said Paeng was forecast to track west northwestward until Sunday morning.

Based on the forecast track, the center of the storm will traverse the Cavite-Batangas area, then will cross the southern portion of Bataan.

Other developments in Cebu:

* The Mandaue City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) ordered the evacuation of families living near the Butuanon River’s outfall and within its three-meter easement as part of preemptive measures. According to the CDRRMO, 1,044 individuals, or 269 families, have already been evacuated and are staying in the city’s seven evacuation camps as of 12:35 p.m. on Saturday;

* In Lapu-Lapu City, 189 passengers were stranded at the Angasil Port in mainland Lapu-Lapu and in Sta. Rosa Port in Olango Island following the suspension of sea trips;

* Ten flights to and from the Mactan Cebu-International Airport were also canceled on Saturday because of the bad weather. (AP / LMY / BBT / JKV, with HIC, MKG)