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Trapped dead: 3 kids, 3 others

Posted by Michille on August 31st, 2006

Trapped dead: 3 kids, 3 others – Sun.Star Cebu!

A mother, her three children and two other women died after the door of the basement room they were renting on Sindulan St., Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City was blocked by a concrete wall that collapsed, trapping them inside.

The bodies of Precilla T. Balagapo, 35, a part-time teacher of a caregiving center and her three children—Frealla Ann, 7, Fritzie Joice, 6, and Alfredo III, 3—Abigail B. Familara, 24, Precilla’s cousin-in-law and Elsa Gocela, 38, a housemaid were found at 8:50 a.m. yesterday.

Tragedy struck at 1:30 a.m.

The victims were taken to the Cebu City Medical Center where they were declared dead.

They may have drowned or got electrocuted, according to homicide investigators.

SPO3 Rey Cuyos, team leader of the responding Homicide Section team, told reporters yesterday they asked the PNP Crime Laboratory 7 to do an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Precilla’s husband, Alfredo Jr., rushed back to Cebu City from Bohol Province after learning about the incident. He called on
the local government to prioritize the cleanup of rivers and creeks to prevent a similar tragedy.

SPO3 Cuyos said the creek overflowed after it rained nonstop overnight.

The rushing waters destroyed a concrete fence that also served as the flood control wall of the house of Fatima Dolotina.

The water, which rose as high as seven feet, flooded the entire house of Dolotina, including the porch.

The water surged and toppled the opposite concrete fence.

The City Government will give P10,000 assistance for each of the fatality.

The City Council yesterday declared Sindulan under a state of calamity so City Hall can tap its calamity funds to help the families of the dead and those displaced by the flooding.

Vice Mayor Michael Rama said the incident showed the importance of restoring the mandated three-meter easement on riverbanks.

He said City Hall must demolish structures and clear all rivers and creeks.

He reminded barangay officials of their duty to monitor construction of structures and to implement the law.

Councilor Gerardo Carillo said an investigation will be made to determine who should be held liable for the tragedy.

The fire department and disaster council were in Sindulan as early as 2 a.m. urging the residents to vacate their homes because of the flooded creek.

City Planning Officer Paul Villarete said the shanties built near the creeks should be demolished.

The Balagapos’ room is at the basement of the two-story house owned by the Galarse family.

The room has a separate door fronting the concrete wall. A pathway, about half a meter wide from the wall, gives access to the room.

Mud on the wall indicated that the water had filled up the room.

Cuyos said an electrical short circuit may have also occurred when the water entered the room.

Vicente “Toto” Galarse, who occupied the first floor of the house, told reporters that the victims had been renting the underground room for more than a year.

He narrated that past 1 a.m. he was awaken by the floodwaters that flowed inside his room, prodding him to check the house.

He also checked outside the house but did not notice the collapsed wall. He went back to his room and got back to sleep.

He only learned about the tragedy when a relative of the victims arrived past 8 a.m. to check on the family.

Vicente then called up the Mabolo Barangay Hall to seek assistance.

Warlito Matulac, a technical staff of the Cebu City Disaster Coordinating Council (CCDCC), said in an interview that they noticed the two walls that collapsed at 3 a.m. but did not know that six people were trapped inside the room.

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