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DAVAO ORIENTAL, Philippines – Rescuers resumed operations for about 300 trapped miners, utilizing heavy equipment to clear the path at a densely wooded mining site operated by Hallmark Mining Company in Mati City, around noon on Friday, January 19.
The company is engaged in a multi-million-dollar nickel laterite project in Mati, the capital of Davao Oriental.
Continuous heavy rain, coupled with strong winds, had halted the rescue efforts initiated by the city government a day earlier.
Jude Corpuz, spokesperson for Mati City’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said rescuers had been forced to temporarily suspend operations due to the threat of flash floods and landslides at the mining site.
Corpuz said a sea rescue operation has been ruled out “due to deadly big waves” in the waters of Pujada Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
The mining site is situated on the opposite side of both Pujada Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
Nathaniel Quinonez, a council member of Barangay Sentral in Mati City, said the trapped miners reached out to him by phone, and informed him that their campsite was washed away by rampaging floodwaters.
“They requested me to notify local government officials of their predicament for possible rescue,” he said.
Quinonez said that was the last communication he had with them, and none of the mining workers could be contacted after that.
The director of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) in the Davao Region, Ednar Dayanghirang, told Rappler that he was organizing a team to fly to Mati and check the mining site.
Meanwhile, Davao Oriental lost its power supply on Friday morning due to bad weather.
Vehicular traffic was also affected after several major roads in the province were hit by landlides, particularly in Mati City and Governor Generoso town.
Dayanghirang said the Kinonoan Bridge that connects the towns of Tarragona and Manay in Davao Oriental had collapsed on Friday.
Two bridges in Mati City – Bitan-agan Bridge and Mapantad Bridge – have also collapsed.
According to the city’s disaster office, the villages of Lawigan and Macambol were isolated.
Mati’s renowned zigzag road in Barangay Bad-as has also remained impassable on Friday due to landslides. The road is a prominent tourist attraction, providing a scenic view of the renowned “Sleeping Dinosaur” peninsula at Pujada Bay.
Dayanghirang asked residents to be cautious given the flooding, landslides, and recent earthquakes that were felt in the region.
“Leave immediately when you are advised to go to the evacuation centers or in the higher grounds,” said Dayanghirang.
Based on the OCD count as of late Thursday, some 187,000 people in the Davao Region have been displaced by heavy flooding and landslides, with the worst-hit provinces being Davao de Oro, Davao Oriental, and Davao del Norte.
The OCD confirmed several deaths in the mining village of Mount Diwata in Davao de Oro.
Among those who died were members of a religious group who were worshiping when their building collapsed, and more fatalities are feared as a result of the landslide.
Dayanghirang said on Friday that the OCD listed at least 12 dead as a result of the landslide in the mining village of Diwata in the town of Monkayo in Davao de Oro province. – Rappler.com