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Philippine Army conducts SSR operations in landslide-hit areas in Leyte, Southern Leyte due to ‘Agaton’

ORMOC CITY – Non-stop rains prior and during the landfall of Tropical Storm Agaton on April 10, caused flooding in low lying areas and landslides in several mountainous communities in the provinces of Leyte, Southern Leyte, and Biliran.

The Maharlika Highway from Mahaplag, Leyte going to Sogod, Southern Leyte rendered unpassable due to a damaged bridge in Brgy. Polahongon of said municipality.

Also, the route from Abuyog, Leyte going to Silago, Southern Leyte was also not passable due to landslides.

These incidents closed the shortest route to the pacific towns and gateway to Mindanao and Panaon Island in Southern Leyte.

With this, the 8th Infantry (Stormtroopers) HADR units were activated to conduct Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) specifically to conduct search, rescue and retrieval (SRR) operations and conducted support to DRRMOs preventive evacuations.

Based on the reports of SRR units of the 14th Infantry Battalion, with their close partnership with CDRRMO Baybay City, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), they were able to retrieve 14 cadavers in Brgy. Mailhi, five (5) in Brgy. Kantagnos, two (2) in Brgy. Maypatag, one (1) in Brgy. Candadam, one (1) in Brgy. Pangasugan and one (1) in Brgy. Bunga, with a total of 25 mortalities/casualties, 28 missing, and 105 injured in Baybay City. 

On the other hand, the 546th Engineer Construction Battalion (546ECB) conducted road clearing operations in landslide areas of Brgy. Cuatro de Agosto, Mahaplag and main roads in Hilongos, Leyte, and Liloan and Maasin City both in Southern Leyte, in order to speed up the SRR operations of the responders.

In the afternoon of same day, a missing person, Adrian Paulo B. Tulin, was reported who was surfing in Brgy. Pangasungan, Baybay City, Leyte. Moreover, late in the evening of same day, simultaneous flooding and landslides happened in barangays Mailhi, Maypatag, Kan-ipa, Pangasugan, Bunga and Brgy. Kantagnos of same city. These incidents closed the nearest diversion route to Pacific towns and Panaon Island.  

The SRR Teams from the 802nd Brigade and 14IB composed of CAFGUs and reservists from 8RCDG together with CDRRMO Baybay City, PNP, BFP, PCG and other local rescuers immediately conducted search and rescue operations and still in the area as of this report. Others are on road clearing operations with the 546ECB and DPWH, and HADR operations in collaboration with CDRRMO Baybay City with other socio-civic groups and private sectors conducting relief distributions.    

“We are saddened of this dreadful incident that caused unfortunate loss of lives and destruction of properties,” Colonel Noel A. Vestuir, 802nd Brigade commander, said during his area survey and inspection in Baybay City on Monday, April 11.

“I commend the rescuers for their selfless devotion to their duties despite of the difficult and dangerous situation due to continuous rains and threat of landslide as they attempt to save more lives,” Vestuir added, as he personally witnessed and supervised the ongoing rescue operations in Brgy. Bobon, Baybay City.     

“We are closely monitoring the situation and supervising the SSR and HADR operations in coordination with CDRRMC of Baybay City as we race against time to rescue those who are hit by landslide, save lives, give hope and ease the sufferings of our fellowmen in the area,” Vestuir said. (802nd Brigade/8ID)

About the Author

Leonilo Lopido

Assistant Regional Head

Region 8

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