From Luzon to Mindanao, country bears wide-ranging impact of Paeng


Posted at Oct 29 2022 03:59 PM | Updated as of Oct 29 2022 05:42 PM

A handout photo made available by Philippine Coast Guard shows its personnel conducting a rescue operation in the flood-hit Parang town, Maguindanao, on October 28, 2022. Philippine Coast Guard, EPA-EFE/file
A handout photo made available by Philippine Coast Guard shows its personnel conducting a rescue operation in the flood-hit Parang town, Maguindanao, on October 28, 2022. Philippine Coast Guard, EPA-EFE/file

Severe tropical storm Paeng left many parts of the country in a standstill, flooding towns from Luzon to the Visayas and Mindanao, and prompting one official to suggest a prolonged "national state of calamity."

Paeng's sweeping impact wasn't limited to rising waters.

Its effect ranged from wrecked bridges and landslides that cut off roads, to mass evacuations and dozens of fatalities.

Rough waters forced seaports to shut down in the Central Visayas, felled electric posts cut power in Quezon, and more than 100 domestic and international flights were cancelled as people hoping to commemorate the All Souls weekend in person with family saw their plans shelved.

The Department of Public Works and Highways listed 22 roads located in different parts of the country as impassable.

Government numbers Saturday afternoon confirmed 45 people dead, fewer than the 72 it reported earlier in the day but had not been validated.

LGUs throughout the country were one by one reporting confirmed deaths, with three bodies found in Patnongon town, Antique; one killed by a felled tree in Tayasan town, Negros Oriental; and one drowning incident involving a minor in Ormoc.

In Tobias Fornier town, Antique, a man's body was recovered under a rubble. In a Facebook post, Mayor Toto Ernesto Olaer Tajanlangit lll urged residents living in landslide-prone areas to evacuate.

Atty. Naguib Sinarimbo, head of Bangsamoro's emergency response agency, clarified midday Saturday that the death toll in Maguindanao remained at 42, contradicting circulating speculation it was more than 60.

Sinarimbo added that search and retrieval operations in Brgy. Kusiong in Datu Odin Sinsuat town, Maguindanao, resumed in the morning as approximately 80 people were still missing because of a landslide. Eleven bodies were recovered Friday.

Additional rescue teams and heavy equipment were expected to be deployed in the area.

Sinarimbo added that officials will visit Datu Blah Sinsuat by sea as the town was inaccessible after a bridge collapsed.

The Bangsamoro government later declared the region under a state of calamity.

As Paeng covered more ground, reports trickled in from provinces of rising water that submerged streets, flooded houses, and prompted tens of thousands to flee their homes.

In a virtual meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., national disaster-management officials said all but one of the 17 regions were classified as high risk, prompting the agency's executive director, Raymundo Ferrer, to suggest declaring "a national state of calamity ... for a period of one year."

Marcos rebuked civil defense and local officials over the high number of casualties in Mindanao.

"It will be important for us to look back and see why this happened. Why did we fail to evacuate them? Why do we have such a high casualty (figure)?" the president asked.

Mindanao is rarely hit by the 20 or so typhoons that strike the Philippines each year, but those that do tend to be deadlier than those that hit Luzon or the smaller central islands.

An initial P4.1 million was disbursed to aid families, Malacañang said, an amount expected to shoot up once it becomes clear how many more lives were turned upside down by the storm.

Meanwhile, rescue and evacuation operations were in full swing, with authorities battling chest-high waters and nonstop rains.

In Quezon, 8,000 people from 2,670 families in 20 towns were taken to evacuation centers.

There are more than 350 people stranded in different ports, 224 of them in Lucena city.

In Zamboanga City, 3,000 families fled their homes, as disaster-management officials reported four missing persons and looked to confirm one fatality. 

The LGU initially recorded 42 barangays affected by the flash floods, adding that the figures were expected to increase.

Some barangays reported destruction of slope protection structures, bridges, and other infrastructure projects due to the strong water current. 

Landslides were a common occurrence, too. 

In Calatrava town, Negros Occidental, the local disaster-management agency said it saw a fourth landslide in Brgy. San Benito, Friday night. No reports of casualties were available as of posting time.

In Paranas town, Samar, a landslide caused a boulder to block the road leading to San Jose De Buan town.

In Valencia town, Negros Oriental a portion of the walls built to contain the sulfur vents — a tourist attraction — in Brgy. Mag-aso collapsed. 

Clearing operations have been conducted, officials said. 

The storm struck at the beginning of a long weekend when millions return to their hometowns to visit the graves of their dead relatives.

"If it's not necessary or important, we should avoid going out today because it is dangerous and could bring you harm," national civil defense director Rafaelito Alejandro said, adding that 5,000 rescue teams were on standby.

— With reports by Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News; Chrislen Bulosan, Queenie Casimiro, Ronilo Dagos, RC Dalaguit de Vela, Ranulfo Docdocan, Rolen Escaniel, Sharon Evite, Annie Perez, Aireen Perol, and Agence France-Presse