MANILA - At least 59 people were killed and 26 others are still missing in the third district of Zamboanga del Norte in the wake of Typhoon Vinta, a provincial officer said Sunday.
Most of the dead were killed in flash floods as the sudden rise of water levels caught residents off guard despite warnings, said provincial planning officer Ryne Gustillo.
It was the first time for a flash flood to hit the area, he said.
"Napagsabihan talaga ang mga tao. Napagsabihan sila, kaso ito pong mga area na talagang nasa bundok na… hindi nila inasahan na ganito ang mangyayari kasi di naman nangyayari sa kanila ito. First time talaga sa history namin na ganito," he told DZMM radio.
"'Yung bagsak ng tubig ay biglaan… Para bang 'yung baha niya, 'yung volume ng pagbaba ng tubig, napakalakas talaga. Hindi ho siya gaya ng iba na baha na dahan-dahan, nababantayan talaga," he said.
Many of the fatalities were recorded in Sibuco town, said Gustillo.
The town, which is far from the river, was warned of the possible flash flood and forced evacuation was recommended days prior, he said.
"Sa palagay ko po, kahit na mayroon tayong kautusang ganun, sa nakikita namin ngayong resulta, ang mga tao ng barangay na ito ay hindi sumunod kasi kung sumunod sila, eh di naiwasan talaga," he said.
"Pero sa sabi naman nila, marami namang bagyong dumaan, marami namang malalakas na dumaan ay di pa nangyari sa kanila," he added.
Meanwhile, some evacuees have returned home, but around 35 houses made of light materials were “totally washed out” by floods in Salug, he said.
At 4 a.m. Sunday, Typhoon Vinta, which caused deadly mudslides and flash floods in parts of Mindanao, was tracked 355 kms south southeast of Pagasa Island, Palawan.
It was packing maximum sustained winds of 120 kph and 145 kph gusts, state weather bureau PAGASA said.
Vinta is expected to leave the Philippine area of responsibility early Sunday. Nearly 200 people have been reported killed across Mindanao while scores remain missing due to the onslaught of the storm.LINK: