By Calvin Cordova
CEBU CITY—Authorities on Saturday ended the search for more bodies at the landslide-hit Barangay Sindulan in Naga City.
Nine more people are missing, but the city government said search and retrieval operations had to be stopped because the area has become unsafe for rescuers.
“The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has conveyed that the incident area has become unsafe for the responders and to others who may come near the area. The other side of the hill contains a big amount of debris that could possibly move and fall due to the adverse weather conditions at this time,” city information officer Garry Cabotaje said in a press statement.
The decision to end the search was done in consultation with the team leaders and the Operations of the Incident Command Post composed of Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine Navy, Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), the Incident Management Team (IMT), Carmen Copper and the rest of the civilian volunteers.
“The families of the missing victims have witnessed how the responders have exhausted all possible efforts to locate their loved ones. With the two unidentified bodies and 13 body parts, there is a big possibility that the bodies would be identified through DNA testing being processed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI),” Cabotaje said.
Since the landslide in September 20, 78 bodies have been recovered.
The landslide also destroyed over 30 houses.
Naga Mayor Kristine Vanessa Chiong announced the end of the search and retrieval operations during the burial of 32 victims Saturday afternoon.
Chiong said the next step is to implement the Hazard Reduction Program that will be undertaken by DENR – MGB in coordination with the Apo Land Quarry Corporation (ALQC).
The city government said it will intensify its efforts to manage and supervise the evacuation centers while waiting for the DENR-MGB’s recommendations on the delineation of permanent no-build or critical zones.
The city government assured that residents living in the critical zone will be prioritized for relocation and financial assistance.