Villages in Cagayan de Oro preemptively evacuated

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Aiming for zero casualty, the Cagayan de Oro city government has begun evacuating communities living near the Cagayan de Oro river as its waters continue to rise due to heavy rain.

At least 21 families from Sitio Baliti in the village of Bugo were evacuated to the village gym as early as 3 am on Saturday, January 18.

The river's water level rose by a meter 3 hours after heavy rain pounded the upper part of the river in Talakag, Bukidnon, City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) vice chairperson Teddy Sabuga-a told Rappler.

The amount of rainfall there reached the "torrential" level of 7.11 millimeters at 11am on Saturday.

If the river continues to rise, the city will evacuate at least 6,000 families in critical areas near the river.

Aside from flooding, landslides have also been reported in the city.

City officials and disaster-readiness teams have been asked to prepare safety measures as Tropical Depression Agaton approaches Cagayan de Oro.

Agaton, the first tropical depression of 2014, is predicted to be in the vicinity of the city by Monday morning, January 20.

Previously a low pressure area, it developed into a tropical depression on Friday, January 17, bringing heavy rains and strong winds to parts of Mindanao. As of Saturday, 37 were reported dead from floods and landslides. – With reports from Pia Ranada, Voltaire Tupaz/