Heavy rains due to 'Pablo' trigger flash floods, landslides in gold-rich ComVal; 20 missing

Flashfloods in the Davao region spawned by Pablo's heavy rains, as documented by TV5-Davao.
The online news portal of TV5

(UPDATED - 7:06 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines - Continuous heavy rains dumped by Typhoon "Pablo" on Tuesday triggered flash floods and landslides in gold-rich Compostela Valley, according to the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Region 11. 

The OCD said the flashfloods and landslides hit New Bataan, a first-class municipality in the gold-rush area of Mt. Diwalwal, which is surrounded by mountain ranges that supposedly keep the town away from typhoons.

Diwalwal is categorized by Environment and disaster agencies, however, as one with a high geohazard risk, owing to the activities of small miners. Two days before Pablo struck, authorities had issued an appeal to them to stop in order to cut the risks of landslides.

At least 20 people went missing after being reportedly washed away by the flood. 
Captain Severino David, commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command's disaster response task group, said heavy rains caused a flashflood in Barangay Andap sometime between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m. Tuesday. The flashflood also washed out a military outpost, killing a sergeant and injuring a military officer.

"Meron kasing flash flood doon sa bagyo tapos parang nalunod 'yong mga casualties pero 'yong recovery team namin papunta pa lang doon... kasi 'yong mga kalsada [im]passable eh kaya medyo mabagal 'yong papunta nila," David told reporters.

[The typhoon caused the flash flood there and it appeared that the casualties drowned but our recovery team is on its way to the area to verify... but the roads are impassable that's why it takes them longer to reach the place.] 

A separate report from the government-run Philippine News Agency said hundreds of passengers on board buses, vans, jeepneys and private vehicles were stranded after a landslide hit the national highway in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley Tuesday morning as Pablo continued to batter the Davao Region, Caraga Region and other parts of Mindanao and Visayas.

Dennis Flores, spokesperson of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH 11), said Daang Maharlika in Barangay Linda, Nabunturan was impassable to motor vehicles after mudflows and rocks obstructed the road.

“Clearing operation is still ongoing by our maintenance crews using our standby heavy equipment which were deployed as of Monday afternoon,” Flores said.

He said stranded passengers should have to wait for the completion of the clearing operation, otherwise they should just return to their origin.

Flores said the DPWH 11 Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation Center with base of operation at the 11th Regional Equipment Service in Panacan here has also dispatched heavy equipment in Mati, Davao Oriental intended for disaster response specifically to remove obstructions along national roads in the event of landslides in areas within its jurisdiction.

He said also on standby are other heavy equipment in Davao del Norte.

The DPWH spokesperson said landslides were also reported in Daang Maharlika, Intermittent Section, Compostela Valley where the road was still impassable due to fallen trees caused by strong winds and that clearing operations is still ongoing.

He said another landslide also took place in Daang Maharlika, Intermittent Section, Davao del Norte where the road is still impassable due to fallen trees caused by strong wings.

A landslide likewise hit Surigao-Davao Coastal Road in Davao Oriental, which was partially impassable due to fallen trees.