Ruby’s heavy rains threaten Marinduque with flash floods

LUCENA CITY, Quezon – Flash floods threaten Marinduque as Boac River continued to swell and sea water rose amid heavy rains spawned by Typhoon “Ruby,” now weakened to the category of a tropical storm, the head of the provincial disaster coordinating council said Monday.

“Our rain gauge monitor registered a maximum rainfall data of 30.8 millimeters which exceeded the forecast rainfall brought by Ruby,” Eleuterio Raza, acting head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a telephone interview.

“Low-lying areas and those near the shores run the risk of flooding, which will be exacerbated when high tide occurs,” he added.

Raza said the water level in the 27-km-long Boac River had reached 2.6 meters as of noon Monday and could overflow anytime as the river was heavily silted with mine tailings left behind by the now defunct Marcopper Mining Corp.

Data provided by the Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) regional disaster office said that as of 8 a.m. Monday, 15,755 persons had been evacuated in Marinduque.

“More are evacuating due to risks of flood,” Raza said.

He said government rescue teams, assisted by citizens groups, were now evacuating villagers along the Boac River and other low-lying areas.

The provincial disaster office alsro feared that the abandoned Makulapnit and Maguila-guila mine dams and Tapian pit of the former Marcopper Mining Corp. might collapse, with catastrophic consequences for the towns of Mogpog and Boac.

Makulapnit and Maguila-guila were among the Marcopper dams that were described as being in “imminent danger of collapsing” by the United States Geological Survey as early as 1996, or after the spill occurred.

In 1996, the plug of the Tapian pit of the Marcopper mine gave way and unleashed approximately 200 million tons of toxic mine tailings into Boac River. The incident is considered to be the country’s worst mining disaster.

Makulapnit dam was built to supply water for the operations of Marcopper and for household use by residents within the vicinity, while Maguila-guila dam served as the mining company’s siltation dam.

The Tapian pit is a 130-hectare wide and 320-m deep hole that was created in the process of mining copper near the summit of Mount Tapian.

Meanwhile, the Mimaropa regional disaster office said Romblon had the highest number of evacuees with 30,500, followed by Oriental Mindoro, 28,057; Occidental Mindoro, 24,998; and Palawan with 21,159.

The report said the Sibuyan circumferential road in Barangays Taclobo and España in San Fernando town in Romblon has also been impassable to light vehicles due to 0.60-meter flood.

Source and courtesy: Inquirer

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