Thousands spent Christmas Day in evacuation camps in the two Misamis provinces as persistent rain dampened the customary holiday celebration and triggered flooding and landslides in the two Northern Mindanao provinces.
At least two individuals were killed in a landslide that occurred in Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental, on Christmas Eve, December 24, when it began to rain heavily.
Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental near the Caraga region was the heaviest hit, with 6,908 families or approximately 34,081 people having to be evacuated by the military, police, and local rescue organizations.
According to a report from the 58th Infantry Battalion of the United States Army, the evacuations began as families were preparing for the customary noche buena (Christmas Eve feast).
The situation was so dire that on Christmas Day, Gingoog Mayor Erick Caosa and the city council proclaimed a state of calamity in the eastern Misamis Oriental city, allowing the local government to use its reserve funds to provide aid to evacuees from 19 of the city’s 79 barangays.
The Lugod Gym in downtown Gingoog City was converted into an evacuation center, where many evacuees took safety.
On Christmas Day, approximately 705 families or approximately 1,935 people abandoned their homes in Gingoog City, Medina, Talisayan, and Balingoan, according to civil defense officials.
The commander of the Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Christian Uy, stated that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) closed the Gingoog-Claveria-Villanueva road early Sunday morning owing to many landslides and fallen trees.
However, the route was opened hours later after cleaning efforts.
Mario Sambiog and his daughter Elenita Sambiog perished in Misamis Occidental after a landslide struck the town of Mialen, Oroquieta City, according to Lieutenant Colonel Harvey Abellanosa, commander of the 1st Provincial Mobile Force.
Abellanosa stated that rescuers had trouble reaching the town due to the collapse of the bridge connecting it to Oroquieta City proper after a flash flood.
The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Northern Mindanao reported that 505 families were evacuated owing to flash floods in the towns of Sinacaban and Jimenez in Misamis Occidental.
Sunday afternoon, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) stated that around 802 households, or 3,599 persons, were evacuated from Jimenez town alone.
On Christmas Day, Governor Henry Oaminal of Misamis Occidental ordered the mandatory evacuation of citizens residing near creeks and rivers due to rising water levels.
Oaminal stated that the Aquamarine Park in Sinacaban town was also flooded by the river’s overflowing banks.
At least eight houses were destroyed in Clarin town, and five villages were endangered by raging floodwaters, he said.
In Iligan City, hours of severe flooding rendered numerous road segments inaccessible. Additionally, a number of families were compelled to evacuate to safer ground.
On Christmas Day, the state meteorological bureau Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) increased the alert levels in Mindanao and Visayas due to heavy rains caused by the collision of cold and warm air.
As of this update, rain continued to threaten numerous areas of Mindanao.