By: Jim Lloyd Dongiapon
Over the weekend, Tropical Storm Paeng (international name “Nalgae”) ravaged some parts of the country, with its effects most felt in Central Mindanao before it even made its first landfall in Virac, Catanduanes in the early hours of Saturday, October 29.
Barangay Kusiong in Maguindanao del Norte’s municipality of Datu Odin Sinsuat is one of the most severely impacted and is now considered “ground zero” of TS Paeng’s onslaught.
In fact, the village was almost completely awash as landslides and flash floods brought about by heavy and continuous rains reduced the community to rubble on Friday, October 28.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) began a search and rescue operation after receiving reports of missing people in the area; this operation later changed to a search and retrieval operation.
According to PCG, 20 victims’ remains have been found in the rubble as of Sunday, October 30. They returned to the area the same day to look for five more missing people, using makeshift wood pointers to find the victims’ bodies.
Four of the five people still missing are babies, and one is an elderly woman.
As of this writing, the PCG’s search for the remaining missing residents is still ongoing.
Meanwhile, Jaffer Sheen Sinsuat, Chair of Barangay Kusiong, stated that the tragedy occurred when a portion of Mount Minandar, one of Datu Odin Sinsuat’s tourist attractions, eroded and engulfed their village.
He described the incident as “unexpected” because it was the first time the area had experienced a landslide of that magnitude.
Following the recovery of the remains in Barangay Kusiong, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported on Monday, October 31, that the death toll from TS Paeng has risen to 98.
On the other hand, as of the latest weather bulletin from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Paeng once again intensified into a Severe Tropical Storm and was last spotted 375 kilometers west of Dagupan City, Pangasinan. It has maximum sustained winds of up to 95km/h and gustiness of up to 115km/h. It is moving northwestward at 10km/h.
Another weather disturbance is in the Philippine Area of Responsibility, namely Tropical Storm Queenie. It was last located 815 km east of Northeast Mindanao. It has maximum sustained winds of up to 65km/h and gustiness of up to 85km/h. It is moving west-southwestward at 10km/h.