Landslides triggered by heavy rains made some roads impassable in Bicol region on December 29, 2018. Local officials use chainsaw to cut up felled trees that block the Magallanes-Bulan road in Sorsogon province. Image Credit: Facebook / Grace Carrascal

Manila: At least 3 people died in the Philippines on Friday, as heavy rains caused by tropical storm “Usman” lashed the Bicol region and parts of the Visayas islands, triggerig landslides.

Reports said overnight heavy rains in Albay caused a landslide that killed the three — Mauro, 26, and 3-year-old Marco Allegre as well as 20-year-old Mia Loreto — in the village of San Francisco in the city.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) reported that eight road sections in the Bicol region and Eastern Visayas have been closed to all types of vehicles as the low pressure area (formerly known as Tropical Depression “Usman”) continues to affect parts of the country.

8

number of road sections closed by landslides in Bicol and Eastern Visayas regions.

In a Facebook post, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar shared a photo of the list of the closed roads. He said the closure was “due to flooding, collapsed roadway and landslides.”

Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (Apsemo) chief Dr Cedric Daep was quoted in the report as saying that the landslide buried the house occupied by 13 people including the fatalities.

Before the tragedy, local residents had been told of the possibility that the heavy rains would loosen the soil making it prone to a landslide.

Tropical depression Usman had entered the Philippines late on Thursday and weakened to a low pressure area (LPA) by Saturday afternoon after making landfall in Eastern’s Visayas’ Borongan.

In the Western Visayas region, heavy rains spawned by Usman caused flooding in major roads in Capiz.

The rains also affected the regions of Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon (Calabarzon); Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan (Mimaropa), Bicol and the province of Aurora.

“Residents of the aforementioned areas, especially those living near river channels and in low-lying and mountainous areas, are advised to take appropriate measures against possible flooding and landslides, coordinate with local disaster risk reduction and management offices, and continue monitoring for updates,” the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said.

Heavy rains triggered a landslide that trees on December 29, 2018, making Magallanes-Bulan Road in Sorsogon Province in the Philippines' Bicol Region impassable. Image Credit: Facebook / Grace Carrascal

The Philippines is not letting its guard down during weather disturbances that struck during the holiday season. During the past two years, complacency during this period where authorities had gone on vacation, had cost the lives of people.

In Eastern Visayas and Bicol Regions the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Ports Authority had cancelled sailings as early as Friday, leaving some 3,200 passengers stranded at the seaports as ferries temporarily stopped operations.

“Usman” has prevented 12 ships from leaving ports, stranding 328 vehicles on Roll-On-Roll-Off ferries, reports from the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

The stranded passengers were in the ports of Ormoc and Bato in Leyte; Maasin, Liloan, and San Ricardo in Southern Leyte; San Isidro and Allen in Northern Samar; and Calbayog in Samar.

Pre-emptive evacuation has been undertaken in the town of Naval, Biliran; some parts of Eastern Samar; and Tacloban City since Thursday.

“Usman” is expected to be the last cycle to visit the country this year. Annually more than 20 cyclones visit the Philippines.