Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 12) — Mayor Jose Carlos Cari has placed Baybay City in Leyte under a state of calamity due to the onslaught of tropical depression Agaton, which he said left at least 36 people dead.
Cari announced the emergency declaration in an executive order dated April 11, where he cited that since Sunday the city has been experiencing “torrential rains” from the weather system, causing landslides and flooding in several areas.
The local chief said these resulted in “loss of life, injuries to numerous individuals, widespread damage to houses and infrastructures, and the overall disruption of the lifelines of people in the city.”
In a text message, Cari said 36 bodies have been recovered so far from the landslides.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, whose count is often slower than that of local authorities, has a lower count of 14 dead in Baybay.
Placing the city under a state of calamity would allow the local government to speed up its rescue, relief, and rehabilitation efforts.
Based on the latest report from the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), at least 10 villages were hit by landslides: Gaas Section, Villa Solidaridad, Kan-ipa, Amguhan, Punta, Kantagnos, Bunga, Mailhi, Bubon, and Gacat.
At least 26 people were reported missing while 105 others were injured, the report stated.
In Barangay Banga, homes were buried by a landslide and many are still believed to be trapped beneath the rubble. It’s still unsure if they are still alive.
One of the residents, Jessel Mijares, said she’s certain that two of the bodies retrieved were her niece and nephew.
Mijares said she spent the night with her mother-in-law in another village Sunday evening, only to return to a nightmare the next morning.
“Paggising ko may pumunta sa amin doon eh. Sabi niya, ‘Jessel ‘yung bahay niyo wala na.’ Tapos nagpunta ako rito, wala na,” she recalled.
[Translation: When I woke up, someone told me, “Jessel, your house is already gone.” Then I went here, it’s gone.]
Mijares’ sister and two children are still missing, and she can only hope they would still make it.
Another resident, Analisa Martinez, is still looking for her husband and two daughters.
“Hindi ko talaga tatanggapin ito. Hindi ko makalimutan ala-ala nila, ang pagmamahal nila sa akin bilang isang ina,” Martinez said.
[Translation: I can’t accept this. I will never forget their memories, their love for me as a mother.]
Martinez shared that she left her job as a housemaid last Sunday so she and her husband can finally start their sari-sari store business. But when she got home Monday morning, everything was gone.
The city government said rescue and retrieval operations will continue for several days, but may be suspended if it rains hard again.
In its 5 p.m. bulletin, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Agaton “remains almost stationary” over Llorente, Eastern Samar.
Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal No. 1 remains hoisted over Eastern Samar, Samar, Northern Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Camotes Island, and Dinagat Islands.