By Kier Edison Belleza
CEBU CITY – A 63-year-old woman was the only casualty during the onslaught of Tropical Depression ‘Agaton’ particularly in southern Cebu.
This was clarified by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) based on its earlier report on Tuesday evening that there were two fatalities.
PDRRMO Chief Baltazar Tribunalo identified the lone fatality as Flora Matas Basadre, a native of Malabuyoc town, southwest of Cebu.
Basadre died after she was buried by debris from a landslide that hit Barangay Looc in the said municipality at around 3:30 a.m. of January 2.
She was asked to evacuate by the town’s local disaster team since the area where her house sat was landslide-prone but Basadre reportedly refused.
Rescuers searched for Basadre at about 5 a.m. and retrieved her mud-covered body at 7 a.m. She was declared dead on arrival at the Malabuyoc District Hospital.
Authorities said heavy rains in the area brought by Tropical Depression Agaton could have triggered the landslide.
“It is apparent that her concrete house was built without risk assessment or clearance from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and the Office of the Building Official,” Tribunalo added.
Meanwhile the death of Ritchel Pimentel, 39, was not attributable to the tropical depression, as earlier reported by the PDRRMO.
Pimentel died when he slipped from the stairs of his house in Bgy. Santo Niño in the same town during a power outage at the height of “Agaton.”
“When he went down, it was too dark and the stairs had no handrails or baluster,” Tribunalo said.
He further clarified that Pimentel did not jump off the stairs as what their office had quoted based on the report of the town’s disaster responders.
Meanwhile, at least 23 families were evacuated to the cultural and sports complex in Boljoon town after local responders observed the water level in the Lusapon River rising at dawn.
Boljoon Mayor Merlou Derama, in a separate interview, said there were two houses that were swept away by choppy waters.
“Good thing our responders were quick to conduct preemptive evacuation on Tuesday which saved the lives of our people,” Derama said, adding that there were no reported casualties due to the flash flood.
No classes in Boljoon
But the floodwaters, Derama said, has destroyed a portion of the river bank’s riprap and filled up a number of classrooms in four of the town’s public schools with mud. Classes in these schools have been suspended on January 3.
“No classes in Boljoon Central Elementary School; Lunop Elem. and High School; and Boljoon National High School,” the town mayor noted.
Julius Regner, PDRRMO Spokesperson, said two teams, composed of up to seven members from the PDRRMO and the Philippine Army, were deployed to conduct post disaster risk assessment in affected areas.
Regner also said the families in Toledo City, who spent New Year’s Eve in emergency shelters after incessant rain pounded the city causing floods in five barangays from Sunday until Tuesday, have gone back to their homes.
There were at least 600 families coming from barangays Sangi, Luray, Ibo, Bato and Daan Lungsod.
There were no reports of significant damage in Santander town, Regner said.
Agaton made its fourth landfall in Santander, southern Cebu at 5 a.m. today, according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.
In Mandaue, the tropical depression did “minimal” damage to the city, said Acting Mayor Carlo Fortuna when sought for comment.
“Flooding was experienced in barangays Casuntingan and Paknaan along the river banks. Unlike in past that the river was raging, we just saw an increased volume past 5 a.m. today,” Fortuna said.
Flooding was also reported in the towns of Sibonga, Dumanjug and Barili.
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