Hope of finding landslide survivors getting dimmer

Published September 24, 2018, 4:06 PM

by Patrick Garcia


By Aaron Recuenco

More diggers have joined the search and rescue operations in Naga City, Southern Cebu, to locate more local residents who were buried in a landslide last week.

A landslide occurred in Tinaan, Naga City, Cebu morning of Sept. 20, 2018. (Photo by Juan Carlo de Vela / MANILA BULLETIN)
A landslide occurred in Tinaan, Naga City, Cebu morning of Sept. 20, 2018. (Photo by Juan Carlo de Vela / MANILA BULLETIN)

But while more are joining the Cebu rescue, those searching for missing miners in Itogon, Benguet, have started to lose hope of getting survivors after more than a week of operations.

As of Monday, a total of 51 bodies have been dug up in Naga City while 75 people were reported dead in the entire town of Itogon which include the massive landslide that hit the bunkhouse of miners in Barangay Ucab.

Chief Inspector Roderick Gonzales, chief of police of Naga City, said a total of 536 rescuers from government agencies and civilian groups are now involved in the search and rescue operations, focusing on Barangay Tina-anwhich was the worst hit by landslide on September 20.

Gonzales said that such manpower is needed especially that it was a portion of a mountain which cascaded down the residential area and buried local residents.

In Itogon, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Francis Tolentino said they are currently looking for 39 missing people.

Tolentino, the appointed pointman of President Duterte on typhoon “Ompong” response, said the death toll based on the report of the local police is 75 in the entire Itogon.
Authorities expect difficulty in identifying dead miners retrieved since some of them are not residents of Itogon or nearby areas.

“Most of the trapped miners are outsiders. They don’t have relatives here,” said Tolentino.

Based on the result of the initial investigation, some of the victims are from Nueva Ecija, Quirino, and as far as Batangas.

“This could be the reason they did not evacuate because they have nowhere to go,” said Tolentino.

Earlier, the government vowed to account for all the missing victims of Ompong.

Director General Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said they remain hopeful that of getting survivors in Naga City and even Itogon.

“We are hopeful and we are not giving up,” said Albayalde.