Lightning strikes hilltop hut in Digos City: 5 die, 1 survives
DIGOS CITY — Only one of the six youths survived when the makeshift hut that sheltered them from the rain got hit by lightning on Easter Sunday afternoon, April 9, 2023, an officer of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) said.
Samuel Miralles, CDRRMO executive officer, said three women and two men were killed when the lighting struck the hilltop hut they were staying in amid a downpour in Camp Mdigger, Barangay Binaton.
Miralles said those who died included Jeramae Cartagena, 16; Jonnel Felix Galicia, 19; John Gabrielle Hersalia, 16; Glendell Joy Villocino, 17; and Valerie Padillo Asotilla, 23.
The lone survivor, Clarence Cate Chatto, 21, was slightly injured but was already in safe condition at the Davao del Sur Provincial Hospital.
According to reports, the victims enjoyed the picturesque view from Camp Madigger mountaintop when rain fell, prompting them to seek refuge in the hut. The lightning struck as they were waiting for the heavy rain to subside.
Asotilla’s mother Loren said her daughter Valerie was still texting her about her whereabouts and had informed her that she was with her boyfriend Chatto. She noticed that her daughter was no longer responding to her messages later on and eventually learned about the incident.
Asotilla’s elder brother Emerson said he was at the same village where his sister was at the time of the incident and had tried to reach Camp Madigger as soon as he heard the news.
“(But w)hen I arrived, my sister had no more signs of life. I attempted to revive her by doing CPR, but to no avail,” Emerson said.
Miralles described the place as “dangerous,” especially during heavy rain because of its slippery slopes and ravines.
“Our vehicles could not climb uphill due to the risks of skidding or falling into nearby ravines. That’s why it took a long time for our emergency responders to reach the area,” Miralles said.
He said the Kabalikat Radio Group members, the CDRRMO rescue unit, the Bureau of Fire Protection, the Philippine Army, and village officials worked together to bring the victims downhill.
Victim Villocino died at Digos Doctor’s Hospital, he noted. He added that four others were already declared dead before reaching the Davao del Sur Provincial Hospital.
Lone survivor Chatto was also rushed to the Davao del Sur Provincial Hospital, where he recovers from his injuries.
Digos City Vice Mayor Johari Baña went to the funeral parlor to talk to the victims’ families.
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