Bloomberg News

Landslide Kills 25 in Philippines Area Struck by Tropical Storm

January 06, 2012

Jan. 5 (Bloomberg) -- A landslide struck the storm-ravaged Philippine island of Mindanao, killing 25 people and adding to destruction that has led to criticism of President Benigno Aquino’s leadership.

The calamity left 25 dead and 15 injured, Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz, a police spokesman, said today in a text message. The slide occurred at about 4 a.m. in the town of Pantukan and “wiped out several shanties and houses,” leaving about 100 people still missing, Southern Mindanao Police Deputy spokeswoman Gretchin Cinco said in a separate message.

Authorities are struggling to help more than 400,000 people in Mindanao needing assistance after Tropical Storm Washi inundated coastal areas in the early hours of Dec. 17. Washi, locally known as Sendong, killed 1,257 people in the region and fueled accusations the government failed to warn residents.

“This has been a yearly problem,” Benito Lim, a political science professor at Ateneo de Manila University, said in a telephone interview in Manila today. “We see that our political leaders are only interested in handing out charity bags and they think they have done their jobs.”

Senator Aquilino Pimentel, whose party endorsed Aquino in 2010 elections, said in a statement earlier this week that local and national officials failed to coordinate and disseminate information that could have helped people prepare for the approaching storm.

Still Missing

About 101 people were missing in the area before today’s landslide, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said on its website. Three people have died from leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that spreads in water contaminated with rat urine, the agency said.

At least 171 people are being treated for leptospirosis as almost 8,000 families contend with poor sanitation inside cramped evacuation centers, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in the report today. Local media have focused on Aquino’s attendance of a Christmas party Dec. 18 as the death toll mounted. Aquino’s spokesman, Ricky Carandang, said by telephone the following day that the chief executive went to the Christmas party held for his security staff for “a few minutes.”

Pimentel, a lawmaker from Cagayan de Oro, said he would organize a summit to help the people of Mindanao prepare for storms. The island is rarely hit by the typhoons that regularly strike other parts of the country.

--With assistance from Joel Guinto in Manila. Editors: Patrick Harrington, Paul Tighe

To contact the reporters on this story: Norman P. Aquino in Manila at naquino1@bloomberg.net; Cecilia Yap in Manila at cyap19@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net


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