. Earth Science News .

Geography, squatting blamed for Philippine floods
by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) Dec 19, 2011

A freak storm, poor warning systems, flimsy buildings and human folly are all being blamed as Philippine officials struggle to explain one of the deadliest flash floods to have hit the country.

Entire villages were washed away when tropical storm Washi whipped Mindanao island overnight Friday to Saturday, killing more than 650 people with hundreds still listed as missing Monday in a trail of flattened homes, broken bridges and upended vehicles.

Sandwiched between the sea and a wall of mountains, the ports of Cagayan de Oro and nearby Iligan, both built on the mouths of major rivers, are natural flood magnets, said Mines and Geosciences Bureau official Sevillo David.

"We are a country composed of hills and mountains as well as basins, and we are also frequently visited by rains and typhoons. Combining this you can expect flooding and landslides," he told AFP.

The hardest-hit neighbourhoods were shanty villages made of light materials built haphazardly atop loose deposits of river sediment, he said.

"When the water rises or there's a flash flood these can be easily swept away."

David, in charge of a five-year-old government programme to map hazardous areas, said the bureau had recommended relocating residents out of the sandy island bars hit by the floods.

But the recommendations, which also included banning buildings within a kilometre (half mile) of the mouths of the Iligan and Cagayan rivers as well as dikes, were not followed.

"In a way, it takes political will to implement some of the recommendations. If you move people you need to find a relocation site for them," David added.

President Benigno Aquino has ordered a review of the government's defences against natural disasters.

Mindanao, the southern third of the archipelago, is rarely hit by typhoons that regularly pound the northern island of Luzon every year, and residents were caught unprepared.

Cagayan de Oro's mayor Vicente Emano insisted on Sunday that city officials had only learned about the looming storm from the media.

"Mindanao is usually not a typhoon-prone area that is why most residents were caught unprepared," Gwendolyn Pang, secretary-general of the Philippine Red Cross, said in a statement.

"Climate is changing. We must also change the way we address climate issues," she added.

Benito Ramos, head of the government's national disaster council, suggested local officials and residents had ignored warnings of the approaching storm.

"They were forewarned these were risky areas. They were aware that they were in a flood-prone area and most of them are informal settlers," Ramos said.

"They did not move because they had not experienced typhoons like this."

A month's worth of rainfall, about 180.9 millimetres (7.1 inches), fell over the region in the 24 hours before the deluge, according to preliminary weather service estimates.

Most victims were caught sleeping.

Anthony Lucero, a senior forecaster, said most of the heavy rain fell on mountains inland, generating the raging torrents that flowed down the rivers.

"Those rainfall levels rarely happen," he told AFP, adding that Mindanao as a whole had been receiving heavier than usual rainfall this year due to La Nina, a cyclical warming and cooling of Pacific Ocean surface waters.

Related Links
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
A world of storm and tempest
When the Earth Quakes

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Flood-hit Philippines prepares for mass burials
Iligan, Philippines (AFP) Dec 19, 2011
The Philippines prepared for mass burials of flood victims Monday to minimise health risks from rotting cadavers after a cyclone disaster left hundreds dead or missing on Mindanao island. Hard-pressed authorities in the port cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, where villagers were swept to sea as they slept in coastal slums, are struggling to cope with the devastation left by tropical storm ... read more

Geography, squatting blamed for Philippine floods

Small fire at Japan nuclear lab; no radiation leak

Microfinancing lifts tsunami-hit Japan firms

Flood-hit Philippines prepares for mass burials

Research could improve laser-manufacturing technique

German company finds rare earths resources in Magadascar

Apple scores hit on HTC in US patent case

Can science predict a hit song

Nitrogen from humans pollutes remote lakes for more than a century

IDFC: India's water supply at risk

What are the prospects for sustaining high-quality groundwater

Dutch unveil latest plan in war against the sea: a sandbar

Central Asian glaciers resist warming

Scientists try to gauge permafrost gases

South Pole conquest hailed 100 years on with eye on climate

Antarctic expedition checks CryoSat down-under

Genome tree of life is largest yet for seed plants

Sugar pump in plants identified

New insight into why locusts swarm

Artichokes grow big in Texas

Philippines buries its dead as flood toll tops 1,000

Aquino vows aid as Philippine flood toll tops 1,000

Philippine storm toll passes 900 as cities prepare burials

Nearly 600 dead and missing in Philippines storm

First Djibouti troops join AU Somalia force

US special forces in Central Africa for LRA rebel hunt

Casamance rebel faction condemns attack on Senegal troops

Kenya vows air strikes on far-flung Shebab towns

Mind reading machines on their way: IBM

I wanna talk like you

Starving orangutans might help to better understand obesity and eating disorders in humans

Follow your nose


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement