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Maguindanao del Norte villagers brace for tsunami, not floods, landslides

Maguindanao del Norte villagers brace for tsunami, not floods, landslides
Maguindanao del Norte villagers brace for tsunami, not floods, landslides

MAGUINDANAO DEL NORTE, Philippines – Families who lived in a community that was wiped out by a flash flood and landslide during the onslaught of severe Tropical Storm Paeng (Nalgae) in Maguindanao del Norte at the end of the week last had prepared well for a tsunami.

Even children in the community were trained on what to do in the event of giant waves similar to a tsunami that hit what is now Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and surrounding areas 46 years ago, Bangsamoro Minister of Interior and Local Government Naguib said. Sinarimbo.

What the villagers hadn’t expected were raging floodwaters and an avalanche of rocks and mud that rolled down the mountain which rises to over 1,400 meters above sea level.

On August 17, 1976, a tsunami that followed the 8.1 magnitude Moro Gulf earthquake leveled communities along a coastline of about 700 kilometers in Mindanao, killing up to 8,000 people.

The tsunami-prepared community at the foot of Mount Minandar at Barangay Kusiong in Datu Odin Sinsuat – now known as Paeng’s “ground zero” in Maguindanao del Norte – was home to most of the 61 people who died in the floods and landslides of October 28 in the province.

Today, what remains in the three-hectare community of Kusiong are the debris from the floods and whatever the floodwaters and mud failed to wash away and bury.

The community of some 200 households served as a resettlement site for families, many of whom once lived near a coastal area of ​​Kusiong.

Fearing a tsunami, families in the coastal area moved to the once unused land at the foot of Mount Minandar, which they said would serve as their refuge, Sinarimbo said.

“Apparently the relocation took place without taking into account the geographical hazard map, and that families would be directly affected in the event of flash floods,” he said.

When community bells rang signaling danger as Paeng unleashed his fury on Maguindanao del Norte late last week, many villagers rushed to an old chapel that stood above the community.

This chapel is gone now, and people who thought it was a safe place have been swept away and buried in mud.

The devastated community of Kusiong was just one of the areas in Maguindanao del Norte where BARMM’s Rapid Emergency Disaster Response (READi) had regularly conducted earthquake and tsunami drills.

“Pati bata dini-drill natin at the school which is on the heights (We even included school kids in disaster drills to run to higher ground),” Sinarimbo said.

He added: “But what happened was they ran into the floodwaters that rolled down the mountain.”

Loss of a grandchild

Daisy Fering, a 60-year-old survivor, lost her one-year-old granddaughter when disaster struck in the early hours of October 28.

She said she and her family heard what sounded like two explosions which preceded a massive mudslide around midnight.

“All of a sudden we were all covered in mud as our walls crumbled,” she said.

Fering said he saw his granddaughter being swept away by the raging floodwaters as soon as his son lost his grip on her when he became entangled in steel wires.

“At that time, calls for help could no longer be heard. The screams were drowned out by the sound of raging floodwaters,” she said.

Fering, who suffered injuries, was pinned down by part of a collapsing wall and half buried in mud when she was rescued hours later. With the exception of her grandson, her family survived the environmental disaster.

missing relatives

Another survivor, Jerry Anton, who helped bury a dozen of his relatives in a mass grave in Kusiong, said mountain floodwaters and landslides caught them off guard.

Anton said it was a very painful experience and he couldn’t get over it because he has other relatives who are still missing.

Major General Roy Galido, commander of Joint Task Force Central, said government search teams had found the bodies of 21 people previously reported missing, and only four remained on their list of people. missing in the province as of Tuesday, November 1.

The list of missing persons, he said, was based on the accounts of survivors.

Study the geohazard map

Sinarimbo said there was a need for officials to carefully study Maguindanao’s geographical hazard map and get people living in dangerous places out of harm’s way.

He said he saw several schools built in dangerous areas at the foot of a mountain in Datu Blah Sinsuat, another town in Maguindanao del Norte devastated by floods and landslides.

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he observed during an aerial inspection that the communities near the mountainsides that had no trees were those that had been destroyed in the environmental disaster of the last week.

“We need to include tree planting in our flood control programs,” Marcos told officials during a briefing on the situation. – Rappler.com

. villagers Maguindanao del Norte prepare tsunami step to floods to landslides terrain

. Maguindanao del Norte villagers brace tsunami floods landslides

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