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‘Agaton’ lingers, damage widens

Death toll: 37; over 466,000 displaced

The death toll from heavy flooding and landslides brought about by tropical depression Agaton rose to 37, with 65 injured and seven still missing, disaster management officials said on Saturday.

Agaton, the first typhoon to hit the country in 2014, also displaced 466,911 individuals (97,705 families). Of this total, 162,502 individuals (33,544 families) are currently being sheltered in 438 evacuation centers.

It likewise destroyed 17,144.18 hectares of agricultural land worth P155,123,110.15 and damaged infrastructure worth P101,043,760, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

The NDRRMC said at least 52 roads and 21 bridges remained impassable due to rising floodwaters in 564 barangays in 92 towns in 15 provinces in Regions 10, 11 and CARAGA.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said Agaton is slowly moving west with a speed of five kilometers per hour and maximum sustained winds of 55 kph.

It was spotted before noon Saturday at 145 kilometers off Surigao City (9.8°N 126.8°E) and by Sunday morning it is expected to be at 40 km Southeast of Surigao del Sur.

By Monday, the storm is expected to move into the vicinity of Cagayan de Oro City and by Tuesday, at 65 kilometers southwest of Cotabato City.

Storm signal no. 1 remained hosted in nine provinces in Southern Leyte in Visayas and Surigao del Norte, Siargao Island, Surigao del Sur, Dinagat Province, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental, and Compostella Valley, all in Mindanao.

PAGASA said Agaton’s rainfall amount is estimated at 5-15 mm per hour within a 300-km diameter which is expected to bring moderate to occasionally heavy rains and thunderstorms over the rest of Visayas.

In Surigao City, port authorities has ordered the immediate anchorage of vessels to safer locations as Agaton continues to paralyze three major ports of Surigao del Norte for two straight days,  resulting in the indefinite cancellations of voyages of all types of sea-going vessels and sea crafts.

Port Manager Isidro Butaslac, Jr. said he ordered the stoppage of port operations starting at about 12 noon on Friday (January 17) in compliance with the directive from the Philippine Coast Guard Station in Surigao City for the indefinite cancellation of sea travels in the entire province after PAGASA hoisted Storm Signal No. 1 in the area.

Butaslac said that of the 573 stranded passengers, 530 were stranded at Lipata Port while 43 stayed inside Surigao Baseport.

PP/Superintendent Froilan Caturla, port police station commander, said that 55 vehicles bound for Leyte were stranded at Barangay Lipata, including 26 vehicles stuck inside the port.        

In Butuan City, three mining workers, including a 9-year old boy, died during a landslide on Friday after they were buried by boulders of rocks, soil and mud in Sitio Bayabas, Barangay Jagupit, Santiago town in Agusan del Norte province.

The Office of the Civil Defense Caraga region identified the 9-year old fatality as Loloy Decoy Salabe,  his grandfather Saturnino Decoy, Sr. 49, and his uncle Saturnino Decoy, 35, Jr.  With Eugenio Lira Jr. and Alvin Guanzon

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