27 September 2013

Subic landslide areas declared permanent danger zones

SUBIC, Philippines – Areas hit by landslides triggered by the southwest monsoon in this town have been declared permanent danger zones.

Subic Mayor Jefferson Khonghun said residents of barangays Wawandue and San Isidro would not be allowed to return to their homes.

“We already relocated the residents living in those areas and we would no longer allow them to go back there,” he said.

Khonghun noted that the areas where the landslides occurred are not on the geohazard maps provided by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

“This is the first in the history of Subic that the landslides occurred in those areas,” he said.

Khonghun also stressed the need to dredge the Santo Tomas River, which is being blamed for the flashfloods in the town.

He appealed to the national government for more relief assistance to affected residents.

At least 128 families or 592 individuals are staying at evacuation centers – 78 families at Calapacuan Elementary School and 50 families at Wawandue sports complex.

Meanwhile, a massive cleanup is underway in Olongapo City, where 16 of the 17 villages were flooded.

Some parts of the city remain flooded, but city government officials and workers along with military personnel and employees from other agencies were clearing the streets of flood debris and mud.

Residents also started cleaning their homes while business owners resumed operations.

The flooding, the worst in the city’s history, swamped markets, stores, restaurants and offices, paralyzing school, work and business operations.

Even documents from the business permit and licensing office and assessor’s office were soaked from the flood.

Classes in all public and private schools may resume today.

Death toll

The death toll from the southwest monsoon stood at 33 as of yesterday.

Twenty-nine of the fatalities were buried alive in separate landslides in Zambales, three drowned and one died of hypothermia.

The lone fatality from Calabarzon was identified as Nonilon Mercado, 29, who drowned in Taysan, Batangas.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said seven persons also sustained injuries due to the southwest monsoon.

A total of 150,914 individuals have been affected in Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Metro Manila, according to the NDRRMC.

A majority of the displaced residents – 29,150 – are inside 140 evacuation centers. The remaining 4,875 persons or 1,009 families stayed with their relatives and friends.

Property damage has been pegged at P23.55 million but this could rise as this amount only covered infrastructure in Castillejos and San Antonio in Zambales.

The heavy rains and floods also damaged 65 houses in Central Luzon and Calabarzon, where at least 79 areas were affected.

The NDRRMC said floods have subsided in barangays Bukihan and Batuhan in Famy, barangay Lecheria in Calamba and barangay Bigaa in Cabuyao, all in Laguna.

The government also provided P1.77 million in assistance to affected residents.

P43-M assistance

The United States is providing P43 million in assistance to victims of flooding and landslides in Zambales and Bataan.

The assistance, which includes hygiene kits and water purification supplies, is coursed through the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

“On behalf of the US government and the American people, we extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to those who have lost their loved ones, homes and livelihoods. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected,” Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. said. (Rick Sapnu, with Pia Lee-Brago, Alexis Romero, Philippine Star)