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DAVAO ORIENTAL, Philippines – Search and rescue teams retrieved on Thursday afternoon, December 29, the body of 62-year-old farmer Restituto Paglanson – among four persons believed buried by a landslide in the mining village of Don Salvador Lopez, Mati City.
At least a hundred of rescuers from the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Army, and provincial and city disaster offices searched on Thursday until around 6 pm for three other persons, all relatives of Paglanson, the president of the sub-village of Sanghay.
The family is part of the Mandaya tribal group living in the area.
The landslide happened after a let-up on Thursday morning of days of heavy rain that caused flash floods and other landslides in Mati, the capital of Davao Oriental.
The Mati City government’s Facebook page said the 11 am landslide isolated seven purok or sub-villages: Upper Cangusan, Lower Cangusan, Proper Cangusan, Tabon- tabon, New Camotes, Sta. Cruz, and Biasong.
The LGU placed the total number of isolated families at 300. Disaster officials said teams ae trying to carve a new road to get to the trapped villagers
The city disaster office identified the three missing persons as Jethroe Quilat, 14; John Gell Casaligan, 15; and their 52-year-old uncle Roberto Ampo.
Relatives and neighbors said the four men went to the river to fish for freshwater eels when heavy rain stopped on Thursday.
Residents said days of heavy downpour caused the mountain slope facing their village to collapse. The village of Don Salvador Lopez is host to small and large-scale mining operations.
The search team retrieved the body of Paglanson around 5:38 pm, just before operations were halted.
“We decided to stop the search and rescue operation because it is too risky for us already. The soil in the landslide-hit village is so soft because of the series of heavy rains,” said John Rex Mabando of the Mati City disaster office.
Disaster teams resumed their search Friday morning, December 30 but had to halt mid-day when continuous rain triggered new landslides.
“Because of its geographic location, which is so isolated and combined with the soft soil in the landslide-hit area, there is much difficulty in our search and rescue operation. The drone being deployed by the provincial government in the landslide-hit area is a big help. Because of it, we were able to find the dead body of one of the victims,” Mabando added.
Heavy rain due to the shear line, the point where warm air and cold air meet, affected parts of the country during the Christmas weekend, leaving at least 39 dead, 12 injured, and 25 missing. Most of the fatalities were from Northern Mindanao. – Rappler.com