Mindanao folk told to remain vigilant against flashfloods

By Helen Flores, The Philippine Star

Posted at Dec 08 2012 08:34 AM | Updated as of Dec 08 2012 04:34 PM

MANILA, Philippines - With rains are likely to continue in the next few days, the state weather bureau advised residents of Mindanao yesterday to remain vigilant against flashfloods and landslides.

Aldzar Aurelio, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) forecaster, said an intertropical convergence zone would bring light to moderate rains in the next two to three days.

“Landslides are still possible because the soil is already saturated,” Aurelio said in a phone interview.

Meanwhile, PAGASA said tropical storm “Pablo” continued to move away from the country.

As of 4 p.m. Friday, the center of the storm was spotted at 530 kilometers northwest of Coron, Palawan with maximum sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 150 kph.

It was forecast to move north-northeast at seven kph.

The storm was predicted to be 495 km west of Iba, Zambales or outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility this morning.

“(Pablo) is expected to dissipate over the sea due to the cold weather,” Aurelio said.

Aurelio said Luzon, including Metro Manila, and the Visayas will continue to experience good weather aside from light rains in the next three days.

He warned operators of fishing boats and other sea vessels not to venture out into the seaboards of Northern and Central Luzon and the western seaboard of Southern Luzon due to big waves generated by Pablo and the enhanced northeast monsoon.

Outbreaks expected

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) raised alarm over the spread of diseases in evacuation centers.

“This weekend, cases of diarrhea may start to increase. We may also see a rise in leptospirosis cases next week so we are assessing the capabilities of the health facilities in the area to respond to these situations,” said Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag.

“There is not enough water supply in the evacuation centers. Most likely, the water sources there are contaminated with garbage and human waste. A person actually needs at least 20 liters of water per day and that will be for drinking, bathing and other needs to maintain sanitation,” he said.

Tayag also raised concern over the lack of sanitary toilet facilities and the buildup of garbage in evacuation centers and areas devastated by Pablo.

He urged those who can help in the relief and recovery efforts and those who want to assist medical teams to first get in touch with the DOH.

“While their help is appreciated, we don’t want them to add to the confusion in the area... It’s still (chaotic) there,” he said.

The death toll from Pablo rose to 418 as of yesterday morning. Pablo is so far the strongest typhoon to hit Mindanao in the last 20 years.

Tayag said the DOH does not encourage mass burial.

“We have to give dignity to the dead and the family must have time to grieve for their dead for closure,” he said. – With Sheila Crisostomo