Sunday, December 03, 2006

Mt. Mayon Mudslides 1,000+ Buried Alive



The Filipinos must demand blood if these sabo projects and early warning and evacuation system was not implemented by corrupt Arroyo administration. Gloria Arroyo is may be partly responsible for the landslide deaths due to her incompetence and too much politicking. These shameless Mt. Mayon disaster area congressmen should use their pork barrel funds in life saving and prevention projects.

EXCERPTS: NEDA MEDIUM-TERM DEVELOPMENT PLAN 2001-2004

Implement sabo projects for the prevention/mitigation of sediment-related disasters, debris and lahar flow/landslide;

Serious and often destructive sediment movement due to landslides, debris flows and river bed deformations remarkably increase damages to lives, properties, infrastructure, etc. Sediment control measures are continuously being pursued, especially within the Mt. Pinatubo and Mt. Mayon influence areas. However, the structures implemented are still wanting in terms of adequacy. As economic activity tends to extend towards the mountain slope areas, sediment-related disasters are likely to frequently occur. The need, therefore, to implement prevention works in disaster-prone areas is recognized for sustainable economic development. These prevention works consist of structural and nonstructural measures such as warning and evacuation system, land use regulation, and disaster preparedness programs.

DPWH, Phivolcs blamed for deaths

RP’s rising poverty ensures disasters’ repeat — analyst

Daily Tribune 12/03/2006

Devastation of the Philippines’ southern Bicol Region wrought by “Reming,” dubbed as a super typhoon by meteorologists, will not be the last that Filipinos will see in their lifetime.

Analysts yesterday said the country’s natural proneness to disasters is made steadily worse not only by rising poverty but also climate change.

In a country such as the Philippines where more than 50 percent of the population are living on less than two dollars a day, the analysts noted, the human cost of such disasters is enormous.

Despite repeated disasters, they said, many Filipinos are too poor to leave dangerous areas.

Philippine Sen. Richard Gordon, who also heads his country’s

Red Cross, for his part, also yesterday said, unless the cycle of poverty is tackled, “these disasters will just go on repeating themselves.”

Some 30,000 residents fled areas near Mayon Volcano in the Bicol Region’s Albay province when it started rumbling in August this year only to return when the activity subsided.

But this week, typhoon-triggered mudslides swept hundreds of these people to their deaths.

Philippine authorities also yesterday said at least 469 persons were dead or missing after rivers of mud and volcanic ash triggered by Reming (international code name: “Durian”) swamped villages, mainly in the Bicol Region.

According to the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), the victims were all in the region, which bore the full brunt of the storm the other day.

All the deaths were around Mayon Volcano where mud and ash flows driven by torrential rain overran the villages last Thursday night.

The Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) earlier reported 388 confirmed dead and 96 missing but yesterday it revised the total down to 134 dead and 159 missing.

The PNRC, however, said it is investigating reports of another 200 dead in a village on the slopes of the volcano.

Roger-Mark De Souza of the Washington-based Population Reference Bureau said the danger from natural disasters in the Philippines has risen markedly in recent years.

“The risk to human life from natural disasters in the Philippines has increased dramatically over the past generation,” De Souza said in a recent report.

“From 1971 to 2000, natural disasters killed 34,000 people but from 1990 to 2000, natural disasters killed or disrupted the lives of 35 million people,” the report said.

Each year, an average of 20 tropical storms sweep in from the Pacific, hammering the central or northern islands of the country.

Sitting on the edge of the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” the Philippines, a Southeast Asian archipelago, is also vulnerable to earthquakes, at least six a day, and volcanic eruptions from its 18 active volcanoes.

It all makes for a deadly mix, according to the International Red Cross, making the Philippines one of the most disaster-prone countries on earth.

Leoncio Amadore, one of the country’s foremost meteorologists, believes that climate change is also contributing to the severity of the typhoons now hitting the Philippines.

“The combination of strong typhoons, excessive rain and landslides has caused a great deal of death and destruction in the Philippines,” Amadore said.

“If we do not act urgently, climate change will further intensify the severity of extreme weather events,” he added.

Rescuers also yesterday arrived in devastated Legazpi City, provincial capital of Albay as officials warned there would be few survivors from the giant mudslides that swept away entire villages, killing hundreds.

Military and civilian emergency workers delayed by Reming, which triggered the mudflows, flew in at first light with the toll already at 469 dead or missing.

As they made their way to Mayon olcano, where rivers of mud and ash meters high obliterated whole communities, officials were pessimistic about finding people alive and appealed for body bags and doctors.

Along the road from Legazpi City to the town of Guinobatan, a quiet procession of poor men, women and children clutching whatever they could salvage walked toward the city hoping to find shelter and food.

Cedric Daep, head of the Provincial Disaster Control Council, said it would be a case of digging bodies from the mud than rescuing survivors.

“There are possibly dozens or hundreds (of bodies) to be recovered,” Daep told Agence France-Presse.

He said floodwaters had risen so rapidly many people simply did not have time to get out of their houses.

The rescuers were greeted by appalling scenes as they arrived on a Philippine Air Force C-130 transport aircraft at dawn.

Many buildings in Legazpi City were damaged or demolished while the villages on the slopes of the volcano had been reduced to just a few sticks protruding from the mud.

Residents using shovels and makeshift equipment were digging out bodies and covering them with plastic as grieving relatives wept as they tried to identify mangled corpses.

The mudslides triggered by rain reached as high as rooftops when they poured down from the volcano, around 350 km southeast of Manila.

Daep said it was difficult to give an accurate death toll due to communication problems in the remote disaster areas.

An earlier death toll of 388 was revised to 149 dead and 294 missing but officials said they were still looking at a higher death toll in two villages that had been “totally wiped off the map.”

The head of forecasting for the government weather station, Nathaniel Cruz, said the government had fully warned the public of the danger posed by the approaching Reming three days before the storm hit.

But Cruz added he was unsure why precautionary measures were not taken in the region.

“Did the information really reach those at the grassroot level?” he asked.

Condolences began arriving from around the world, with Pope Benedict XVI saying he was “deeply saddened” by the deaths.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Spanish government expressed their sympathy to President Arroyo over the human toll of the disaster.

Canada announced that it was donating $1 billion Canadian (US$877,200) for relief efforts.

in a special message to Mrs. Arroyo, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said he is “deeply shocked to hear the sad news of the tragic loss of precious life and devastation of property” caused by Reming.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also expressed his condolences to the Philippine President over the deaths and devastation.

Tokyo has decided to send about 20 million yen (US$173,000) of emergency supplies, including tents and blankets, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Commercial flights began operating into Legazpi City while much of the region is still without power and communications.

The Philippines is also recovering from the impact of Typhoon “Milenyo (international code name: “Xangsane”), the strongest cyclone to hit the nation in more than 10 years, which left 38 dead or missing in late October.

Typhoon “Queenie” (international code name: “Chevi”) caused widespread damage and cut off electricity in many parts of Manila in September, leaving 200 persons dead across the country.

For all the stark images from the devastation wrought by Reming, the scenes were troublingly familiar.

On the eastern island of Southern Leyte in the Philippines’ Visayas Region earlier this year, 1,800 were killed when a mudslide caused by heavy rains obliterated the farming community of Guinsaugon.

The International Red Cross has estimated that some 5.9 million Filipinos were killed or injured as a result of natural or man-made calamities in the 10 years to 2001.

In its 2005 Disaster report, it said the impact of natural disasters “aggravate pre-existing poverty, creating a downward spiral of vulnerability, arresting development.” AFP and Gina Peralta-Elorde


Bigger Disasters Coming, Environmental Groups Warn
Geographically doomed, hobbled by poverty, Philippines buffeted by regular storms
Durian's aftermath: disease threatens homeless Philippine families

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