GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Torrential rains over the last three days flooded most lowlying areas of the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, displacing thousands as widespread reports of overflowing rivers and landslides continue to pour in.
Several local government units have declared their provinces under a state of calamity, including Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental where several landslides claimed the lives of at least 13 persons. Associated Press is reporting 20 dead and 30 missing in all.
Also severely affected is Agusan del Sur after the Agusan River swelled by over three meters prompting the provincial government to order the forced evacuation of residents along riverbanks.
Heavy flooding was also reported in the cities of Davao, Iligan, Butuan and General Santos.
Reports from government disaster agencies said over 25,000 families or some 130,000 residents throughout the island have fled their home due to rising waters sometimes reaching the roofs of homes in low-lying areas.
The number is expected to increase as more reports from provincial disaster offices are still emerging on the scale of the evacuation.
A low pressure area (LPA) east of General Santos City that has built up since Thursday, January 9, is causing continuous rains, according to the Philippine weather bureau PAG-ASA.
The inclement weather will likely continue during the week as the low pressure area continues to linger. It is moving slowly northwest towards the Visayas region.
PAG-ASA earlier warned that the LPA could develop into a tropical depression. The Philippine weather bureau said the LPA will no longer be a storm threat.
Fishing and boat travel in the eastern and northern coast of Mindanao, however, remain restricted due to swollen seas. Passenger and cargo ships have been also warned of rough seas and big waves.
The Philippines is yet to recover from the massive devastation unleashed by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that killed close to 9,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless in several provinces in the Visayas regions in November last year.