3 dead, 5 missing in Compostela Valley mine accident

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Three people died and 5 are missing after water flooded a mine in Monkayo, Compostela Valley, police said Monday, February 29.

Rescuers lowered tubes to pump water out of the mine in the impoverished town of Monkayo during the search for the missing, said provincial police commander Senior Superintendent Albert Ferro.

It was not immediately clear how the tunnel became flooded early Sunday but there was heavy rain in the area at the time, Ferro told AFP.

Twelve miners were initially trapped. Two bodies were retrieved while 5 others were rescued and 5 are still missing, he said.

Compostela Valley police identified the two retrieved fatalities as Gilbert Bayot and Reymart Pegaret.

A rescuer drowned on Sunday while trying to save those trapped, Ferro said, bringing the death toll to 3.

On Tuesday, March 1, Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said that the government would take action following the tragedy.

"Government is determined to enforce safety rules and regulations in the mining industry and to prevent a recurrence of the reported incident in Compostela Valley," he said.

Coloma also quoted Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje as saying that guidelines for small-scale mining are already strict.

"Unfortunately, most of the operations in the area, particularly in Sitio Uno, are mostly illegal," Coloma quoted Paje. "Local government units should not allow their operations."

Deadly landslides are common in Monkayo in the west of the main southern island of Mindanao. But these have not deterred poor residents, some of them children, from working in the poorly-regulated mines. – Rappler.com