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‘Agaton’ weakens but floods affect almost 900,000

Manila, Philippines – The low-pressure (LPA) area that caused massive floods in most parts of Visayas and Mindanao for more than a week dissipated Wednesday morning, the government weather bureau said.

Manny Mendoza, weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the LPA dissipated at around 8 a.m., adding “due to the LPA’s poor wind circulation and the northeast monsoon intrusion, the LPA has totally weakened.”

Before this, the LPA, which entered the area on January 10 and later intensified into tropical depression “Agaton,” was spotted northeast of Davao City or off the waters of Mindanao.

Agaton later weakened into an LPA as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said more than 800 houses were destroyed and close to 900,000 people were affected by the flooding and landslides triggered by incessant rains that hit Mindanao over the past two weeks.

In its latest bulletin, the NDRRMC said a total 837 houses were totally destroyed, while 1,293 were partially damaged in the first calamity to hit the country this year.

At least of 186,543 families or 895,572 persons were likewise affected in 846 barangays in 15 provinces of Regions 10, 11, Caraga, and ARMM.

Of the total affected, 55,501 families or 260,478 persons were displaced and served in 585 evacuation centers.

It said 27 areas were placed under state of calamity, including Agusan del Norte, Lanao Del Norte, Iligan City, Kapalong, Carmen, Asuncion, New Corella, and Tagum City – all in Davao del Norte; Tarragona, Manay, Caraga, Baganga, Cateel, and Boston – all in Davao Oriental; Sta. Josefa, Sibagat, Bunawan, San Francisco, Esperanza, Veruela, Trento, and Rosario in Agusan del Sur; Butuan City; and Lianga, Tago, San Miguel, and Bislig in Surigao del Sur.

Estimated cost of damage was pegged at P369,142,178.22, with P128,513,750 in infrastructure and P240,628,428.22 in agriculture.

The NDRRMC said P60,381,514.34 worth of relief goods had been provided to the affected families from the combined resources of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, local government units, and Department of Health.

Meanwhile, a Philippine Navy vessel delivered relief items to three flood-stricken towns of Davao Oriental.

BRP Magat Salamat delivered a total 52 tons of assorted relief items, mostly food supply, to Cateel, Baganga and Boston, all in Davao Oriental.

Dioceses in Mindanao are also appealing for aid for the people affected by the floods.

Church authorities in the Diocese of Tandag in Surigao del Sur said people in evacuation centers need food, water and medicine.

Fr. Antonio Galela, Social Action Center Director of Tandag, said they are trying to address the needs of the victims, as they closely coordinate with local authorities and other agencies. (With reports from Elena Aben, Leslie Ann Aquino and PNA)

“We’ve been providing food packs and we also coordinated with local governments to help us distribute the relief goods to evacuation centers,” he said in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines website.

The Diocese of Mati in Davao Oriental also made the same appeal to assist the storm victims.

Fr. Roland Sayman, Mati’s Diocesan Social Communications Director, said the damage brought by Agaton is more severe compared to previous typhoons that struck the province.

In the Caraga Region, the Butuan City Search and Rescue Team, joined by the rescue teams from the Philippine National Police, Philippine Army, Philippine Navy and the Agusan del Norte Emergency Response Team continued to conduct search and rescue operations in Barangay Mahogany, Baan Riverside, Mahay, Banza and Buhangin, the most affected riverside villages.

In Agusan del Sur, only one lane can still be used at the landslide-affected portion of the national highway, but only light vehicles and motorcycles are allowed to pass.

Heavy vehicles are still held at the Sibagat town terminal as the municipal engineering and the DPWH are doing the ongoing clearing operations.

In Barangay Ilihan of the said municipality, Wawa Bridge is still not passable due to high water level.

In Surigao del Sur, the Buhisan Bridge is passable only to light vehicles. Landslides also made the roads from the municipality of Lingig to Davao Oriental and the provincial road from Barangay Tagongon to Barangay Sta. Maria in Tagbina, Surigao del Sur from being passable. Likewise, flood made the roads in Sitio Hubo, Alba, Cabangahan and Sitio Sampinip in Gamut of Tago town impassable to all types of vehicles.

Meanwhile, strong to gale force northeasterly surface wind flow associated with the surge of the northeast monsoon or hanging amihan is still expected to affect the seaboards of Luzon and Eastern Visayas.

Metro Manila and the rest of the country will be partly cloudy to cloudy with isolated light rains.

PAGASA said moderate to strong winds from the northeast will prevail over Luzon and Visayas and from the northeast to northwest over Mindanao. (With reports from Elena Aben, Leslie Ann Aquino and PNA)