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DAVAO ORIENTAL, Philippines – Police found the bodies of two teenagers who were buried alive along with two others in a hinterland mining village when a heavy downpour spawned flash floods and landslides in Mati City, Davao Oriental, shortly before New Year’s Day.
Major Ruel Manga, the head of the Mati City police’s search and rescue operations team, announced on Friday, January 6, the retrieval of the bodies of 15-year-old Jon Gel Paglanson Casaligan and his 14-year-old cousin Jethro Paglanson Quilat in a landslide area in Sanghay in the village of Don Salvador Lopez, on late Thursday afternoon.
The retrieval on Thursday brought to four the number of bodies found by search and rescue teams since the December 28 tragedy in Mati.
On December 29, a search and rescue team composed of soldiers, policemen, and firemen, found the body of 62-year-old Cristituto Magmosa Paglanson. The following day, villagers found and dug out the remains of 52-year-old Roberto Ampo in the area.
All the landslide victims were relatives who went out in search of freshwater eels in a river, the same section where a part of a mountain collapsed as a result of heavy rain.
The landslide-hit village and its adjacent areas are hosts to mining operations that have already displaced an indigenous community.
Charlemagne Bagasol, the head of Mati City’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said their operations were stalled by a series of heavy rains and the continuing ground movement in the landslide-hit village, a watershed area.
The series of landslides isolated more than 500 Mandaya tribal families for six days.
“All the roads in the village were destroyed by landslides. We had to carve a new road from the adjacent village to be able to reach out to the isolated families. We used horses and traversed a river to bring food to the isolated families,” Bagasol said. – Rappler.com