5 killed, 5 missing in Semirara landslide


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(4th UPDATE) Incessant rains in the area may have triggered the landslide at the Semirara mining site in Caluya, Antique, the country's biggest coal producer

MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – Rescuers recovered two more bodies from a landslide at the country’s biggest coal mine site in Caluya, Antique on Thursday, February 14, bringing the death toll to 5.

A section of the wall of Semirara Mining Corp.’s Panian mine caved in at 11:55 pm Wednesday, February 13.

Five miners remain trapped, while 3 have been rescued, George San Pedro, resident manager of the mine, said in a text message to reporters. Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas earlier identified the survivors as Marjun Catoto, Adrian Celmar and Leonardo Sojor.

The accident was the third to occur in mining sites in the country over the last 6 months.

Semirara said it “stopped mine operations to ensure the safety of its personnel.” It added its management is still trying to determine the cause of the accident “in coordination with relevant government authorities.”

Police however said incessant rains might have caused the landslide. Rescue operations for the missing miners are ongoing.

Semirara is the biggest and only large-scale coal producer in the Philippines. It is owned by the Consunji group, which has stakes in construction (via DMCI Holdings), utilities (Maynilad Water), toll roads, real estate, and power, among others.

David Consunji, chairman of the company, is the Philippines’ 5th richest man in 2012, according to Forbes.

Mine accidents

This is the 3rd mine accident reported in the country in the last 6 months.

In August, one of the tailings pond of Padcal mine in Benguet province broke, spilling waste into the nearby Balog creek, which flows into the Agno River and the San Roque dam.

Padcal owner Philex Mining Corp., the country’s biggest copper-gold producer, also blamed incessant rains for the accident.

Three months later, silt spilled from the Toronto mine of Citinickel Mines and Development Corp. in Narra, Palawan. The waste flowed into a river and irrigation canals affecting farms and a fish pond.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau fined Philex and Citinickel for the mine spills, claiming both were negligent in their operations.

Philex will pay a P1-billion fine under the Mining Act, on top of other fines imposed on the company for violation of its environmental compliance certificate. Citinickel was fined over P500,000.

The two companies were asked to clean up and rehabilitate affected waterways.

Citinickel is a subsidiary of Oriental Peninsula Resources Group Inc.

Philex, Oriental Peninsula, Semirara and parent DMCI Holdings are publicly traded companies.

Semirara’s stock price plunged following news of the mine accident.

At 1:46 pm Thursday, Semirara was down P17.80 or 6.9% at P240 per share in the Philippine Stock Exchange versus its close of P257.80 on Wednesday, February 13. – Rappler.com

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