By Francis Wakefield
The Central Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP-CENTCOM) said Monday rescuers have pulled out more fatalities out of the landslide area in Naga City, Cebu, raising the death toll to 54.
In a statement, the CENTCOM said that three days after additional troops were deployed for rescue mission, the total number of recovered missing persons has jumped from 29 last Saturday to 54 as of 1 p.m. Monday.
Captain Dave Anthony Pajel of the Army’s 53rd Engineer Brigade, who is leading one rescue team in the area, said rescuers displayed strong determination and inexorable efforts to recover more landslide victims in Naga City, Cebu today.
“We have been very determined and focused to ensure fast recovery of the victims of this catastrophe. There are moments when we forget to take our meal just to ensure we never miss any opportunity to recover hopefully, any survivors who might just be waiting for our response,” Pajel said.
Pajel added that the fast effort is also attributable with the three essential information providers which are the life finder equipment or a thermal detection device from the Army’s 525th Engineer Battalion and K-9 unit, and some of the relatives of the victims who pinpoint the exact location of the buried houses.
“Without these people and information guides we might be exhausting all our energies and efforts in locating the victims inside the landslide area,” he said.
As this developed, relief started to pour-in in Naga City to help the Local Government Unit sustain the essential needs of the affected families such as food, clothing, and medicines. Along with this, the Central Command, in partnership with the CRS REACT and other benevolent organizations are also taking an active role in giving its fair share of support for the whole of nation effort.
Lt. Gen. Paul T. Atal, CENTCOM commander, said they share the sorrows and pains of those who lost their love ones in the very tragic event.
“As promised to our fellow countrymen; your Armed Forces here in the Visayas is relentlessly extending all the necessary support for the people of Naga to rise up again from this cataclysm. We also take this opportunity to urge everyone to take part in rebuilding what was lost in this beautiful and peaceful community,” he said.