Baybay Tragedy
TACLOBAN CITY- The number of fatalities due to the multiple landslide incidents in Baybay City is expected to increase as its death toll has now reached 25 as of Tuesday afternoon.
Heavy rains continue to affect Baybay, a city of more than 111,000 inhabitants, which hampers continuous rescue and retrieval operations in villages hit by landslides.
The bad weather, spawned by tropical depression ‘Agaton’ has also resulted in the occurrence of landslides, the latest of which occurred in the village of Bidlinan which has 428 residents.
Melani Aboyme, a survivor, said that she could not believe that their village of Kantagnos was hit by a deadly landslide.
The 37-year old mother to three children said that she and some residents of the village went to the village evacuation in the afternoon of April 10 due to strong winds and heavy rains due to Agaton.
“But in the morning of the following day, we decided to return home thinking that the typhoon is over. But around 9 am, we heard a loud bang followed by a whirlpool. Then came a rush of mud with uprooted trees and boulders coming from the mountain. I don’t know what exactly happened next as my family went out of our house to seek shelter in a house located on a higher grounds,” Aboyme said in a phone interview.
While she and her husband, Quirimon,46, and their three children ages 15, 12, and 7, survived the onslaught of the landslide, they lost her niece, Marie Ashley Balicuatro,15.
According to her, Marie Ashley, was drifted by the raging landslide. Her brother, Aljun,12, survived. The siblings are with them as their parents are separated.
“We are really in shock and in despair. We never thought that this will happen to us. So many were dead in our village. My three young children could not sleep. A loud sound like even coming from a vehicle jolts them and makes them cry. They are now afraid of rain,” Aboyme said.
She said that as far as she knew, about 11 from their village have been confirmed to have died due to the three landslide incidents preceded by a whirlpool reason why the devastation in their village was massive.
At present, they are living in an evacuation center as they have lost their house.
“We have lost everything. We have no home to return to,” she said. She, her husband, and three children suffered bruises.
On Tuesday, soldiers from the 802d Infantry Brigade headed by Col. Noel Vestuir were able to rescue 73 residents of Kantagnos, which is located more than two kms away from the city proper. Based on the Philippine Statistics Authority, the village has 605 residents
Based on the report from the Baybay Emergency Response Team (Beru), the number of deaths is now at 22 of which 11 were women.
However, Rep. Carl Cari, who is from Baybay City, said that the death toll has now reached to 25 as of Tuesday afternoon.
Marisa Cano, head of the rescue group, said that the number of missing persons due to the deadly and multiple landslides has now reached to 27- 21 from Barangay Bunga; five from Can-ipa, and one from Guadalupe.
“We do hope that the number of fatalities will not increase but considering of the (big) number of missing persons, there is a possibility that it might increase,” Cano said in a phone interview.
According to her, rescue and retrieval operations are hampered by the continuous rains being experienced in the city and the difficulties in going to the affected villages due to landslides or flooding.
They have also monitored 105 people who were injured due to the rain-induced landslides of which 51 of them were admitted to various hospitals in the city.
The rest were out-patients one of them was a personnel of the city fire who helped in the rescue operations.
The flooding and landslide incidents have resulted in the dislocation of 3,721 families or 12,816 individuals in Baybay City.
Meantime, the deadly incidents resulted in several fund drives and donations coming from both public and private sectors amid calls from the city government and provincial officials headed by Vice Gov.Carlo Loreto who is from Baybay City.
Several local government units like Ormoc City have deployed their rescue groups to Baybay to help in the rescue and retrieval operations.
The Palo Archdiocese, meantime, asked the public not to give donations easily as they reported that some unscrupulous individuals have used the tragedy to ask for money.(WITH ROEL T. AMAZONA)