16 survive landslide, 25 reported dead

Karlos Manlupig

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Rescue operations suspended due to heavy rains

LANDSLIDE. A screenshot from an aerial video taken by the Philippine Army's 10th Infantry Aguila Division during search and rescue operations shows the extent of the landslide in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, Thursday, Jan 5, 2012.

PANTUKAN, Compostela Valley – At least 16 people survived the landslide here that authorities said killed 25 people on Thursday, January 5.

It’s a tough situation. The Army could not transport heavy equipment to the area thus the troops ended up doing “hand and shovel rescue,” Col. Bert Domines, commander of the Army’s 103 brigade in the province, told ANC. Dogs are also helping out in the search and rescue operations, Domines said.

Lt. Col. Leopoldo Galon, Eastern Mindanao Command spokesperson, told reporters here that mud and debris covered more than 50 houses in Diat 1, Barangay Napnapan, Pantukan, at around 3 am Thursday.

The Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) of Pantukan said that 16 individuals were rescued as of 12 noon Thursday. The number of missing individuals is still undetermined.

Nine of the 16 were brought to the hospital.

Rescue suspended

But rescue operations were suspended at 2.30pm due to heavy rains in the area, according to the Army’s 10th Infantry Division.

Dr Arnulfo Lataya, spokesperson of MDRRMC, said that Diat 1 is a mining area since the 1980’s and is considered as a high-risk area for landslides.

“There was rain two days before the incident but it was not that heavy,” said Lataya.

The MDRRMC said that the last recorded landslide in the town in April 2011 left 14 people dead. 

“Despite the repeated warning by the authorities to vacate the area, the people opted to stay in the area because of their livelihood,” said Lataya. Small-scale mining has enriched the province but also caused tragedy here.

Lataya said that the local government of Pantukan has already coordinated with the different local and national agencies and has already deployed search and recue teams in the area. – Rappler.com



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