30 killed in Zambales landslides, floods


Posted at Sep 23 2013 06:25 PM | Updated as of Sep 24 2013 06:14 AM

Landslides kill 18 in Subic town

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Landslides and floods triggered by monsoon rains killed at least 30 people in Zambales province on Monday, authorities said.

Eighteen of the victims perished in 2 separate landslides in Barangay Wawandue and Barangay San Isidro in Subic town, Mayor Jefferson Khonghun said.

Nine bodies have been retrieved in Wawandue, according to 1Lt. Yvonne Ricarforte, civil military operations officer of the Army's 24th Infantry Battalion.

Search operations are still ongoing, Ricarforte said.

One person who lost a leg was rescued by soldiers, she said, adding that heavy floods have isolated Subic.

The Wawandue landslide buried at least 6 houses in the village, said Maj. Emmanuel Garcia, chief of the Armed Forces' 1st Civil Relations Group.

Subic town has been placed under a state of calamity.

Khonghun, in an interview on TV Patrol, blamed the ban on desilting rivers as the reason behind floods in the town.

He urged the national government to come to the town's aid.

"The Coast Guard and army are here, helping in the search and rescue operations. The floods are still high," he said in a radio interview.

Five people were killed in Castillejos, Zambales when a landslide buried their home Monday morning, a dzMM report said.

Two others, including an Aeta, drowned in Castillejos town.

At least four people also died in a landslide in Barangay Aglao, San Marcelino town in Zambales, and one person drowned in Olongapo.

Caught by surprise

Assistant Civil Defense director Nigel Lontoc said heavy rains caught landslide victims by surprise.

"It happened before dawn so they might have been asleep at the time," he told Agence France-Presse.

"This is a mountainous area and there are many houses on the slopes. The rain must have really weakened the soil," he added.

Government employee Cristina Humbert, 35, said the ground floor of her two-storey home had been flooded but she managed to evacuate with her 63-year-old mother to higher ground.

"Many are on the rooftops, waiting for help. They are marooned, and are getting hungry and cold. We have no power, no electricity," she said.

In Olongapo, local officials put up ropes across flooded streets so people could hold on to them to keep from being swept away by strong currents, eyewitnesses said.

People there carried their shivering children as they waded through the floodwaters amid submerged cars.

Olongapo City Mayor Rolen Paulino asked US Ambassador Harry Thomas to send some of the US Marines now in the Philippines for joint war games, to help in relief efforts, his spokesman said.

Floods have displaced 698 people living in Sta Rita. village in Olongapo City.

PAGASA forecaster Meno Mendoza said rains over parts of Luzon since Sunday are caused by the the southwest monsoon, or habagat, which has been enhanced by tropical storm Pabuk.

Mendoza said Pabuk is not expected make landfall in the country. - with reports from Jeff Gallos, dzMM; AFP; Kyodo News