Perennial scourge from nature

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Typhoons and the problems that they bring are perennial predicament in the country that Filipinos have learned to live with. Natural calamities have become prevalent as a result of drastic changes in weather patterns.

Landslides are becoming common in mountainous areas of the country during heavy rainfall.

Among the major natural calamities that happened for the past two decades involved downpours loosening the soil that in turn buries unfortunate residents and even passers by who happened to be at the wrong place and time.

Some of the biggest disasters in the past 20 years are the Cherry Hills landslide on 3 August 1999 which killed a total of 60 people; the Panaon Island (Southern Leyte) debris flow induced by a low pressure area (LPA) on 19 December 2003 that resulted to the death of 154 people; the Guinsaugon landslide in Saint Bernard, Southern Leyte on 11 February 2006 triggered by an earthquake and in which 1,200 people perished.

Volcanic ash loosened by typhoon Reming inundated the Bicol Region on 30 November 2006 resulted in lahar rushing down the villages on the foot of Mayon volcano killing over 1,200 residents.

Back-to-back tropical storms Ondoy and Pepeng battered the mountainous Cordillera region resulting to multiple landslides in early October 2009 where at least 120 people died in Benguet province, 25 in Baguio City and 23 in Mountain Province.

Hazardous trade

In early January 2012, a disaster hit a small-scale mining site in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, where gold panning is frequent. The combination of heavy rain and a mild earthquake near the province caused an erosion that buried houses killing at least 42 people.

Typhoon “Pablo” brought rains on 4 December 2012 that caused a massive debris flow in Barangay Andap in New Bataan, Compostela Valley.

The flow of mud, boulders and gravel entombed Barangay Andap and an estimated 500 people with it. Retrieval operations produced 128 bodies but 450 were presumed buried.

In Catbalogan City, Samar, tropical storm Seniang caused landslides most notably in Barangay Mercedes where around 19 people died on 30 December 2014.

Seniang also caused landslides in Leyte province, killing at least nine residents.

On 16 December 2017, Biliran province were affected by rains brought by Tropical Storm Urduja that caused erosions killing at least 42 people while 14 others were missing.

The twin disasters in Itogon, Benguet and in Naga City, Cebu resulted in an estimated 100 people dead.

Typhoon Ompong’s heavy rains and strong winds caused landslips in northern Luzon. Most of the fatalities were recorded at a mining town in Itogon, Benguet on 15 September 2018.

Days after, heavy monsoon rains caused a landslide in Naga City, Cebu on 20 September 2018, affecting at least two barangays as limestone and soil on the mountainside softened due to the rain.

Retrieval operations continue in both incidents and in the case of Naga City where 48 bodies were recovered, rescuers still hold out on hope for a miracle in finding alive some of the 57 people missing.

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