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Access to Banaue road sections still limited after mudslide

MEMBERS of the police and Bureau of Fire Protection clear out mud on town center streets after a flash flood and mudslide in Banaue on July 7. — BFP

SEVERAL sections of roads to and from Banaue that were cut off by last week’s flash flood and mudslide have been partially reopened, according to the regional office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).   

The DPWH-Cordillera Administrative Region office said as of Saturday, total clearing operations are still ongoing while “punch thru” openings have been made at the following affected road segments: Banaue-Hungduan-Benguet, Banaue-Mayoyao-Isabela, and Nueva Vizcaya-Ifugao-Mt. Province boundary road.   

However, the Poblacion part of the Banaue-Hungduan-Benguet highway that was closed on June 27 due to a road slip remains inaccessible.   

Banaue, home of what forms part of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras recognized as a UNESCO Heritage Site, was struck by a rampaging flash flood on July 7 that swept away vehicles and damaged structures in the town.   

“We will look into the cause of the floods to prevent a repeat any time this rainy season,” Mayor Joel B. Bungallon said in a statement on Friday. He has since declared a state of calamity in the municipality.   

Among the affected structures are the state-owned Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel. 

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia C. Frasco, in a statement at the weekend, said the 81-room facility is temporarily closed until the damage has been fully assessed and fixed.   

The Department of Tourism’s Cordillera regional office said 55 domestic tourists who were in town during the disaster and staying in nine accommodation establishments were unharmed. They are being given assistance until they can leave.   

“Communication remains a challenge since electricity has not yet been restored in the affected areas,” the department said on Saturday as it appealed to tourists to suspend travel plans while clearing operations are ongoing.  

The Department of Social Welfare and Development, through its Cordillera field office, said it is providing food and non-food relief packs to affected residents.   

In a statement on Friday, the agency said it initially distributed family packs to about 500 displaced households in Barangay Amganad, Poblacion, Tam-an, Viewpoint, Bocos, and Poitan.  

Another 1,000 packs were delivered to the local government of Banaue while relief goods have also been prepositioned at the provincial satellite warehouse in Ifugao. — MSJ 

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