Masara landslide worst disaster in Davao de Oro in a decade

DAVAO CITY – The deadly landslide in the mining village of Masara in Maco, Davao Oriental was the worst natural disaster that hit the province in the last 10 years. 

Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office spokesperson Edward Macapili said that the landslide last February 6 was the worst following the onslaught of super typhoon “Pablo” in the province on December 4, 2012.  

While there were several landslides and floods that took place in the province due to bad weather systems in the succeeding years, Macapili said the landslide was the worst in terms of loss of lives and damage to property in a single event. 


THE provincial government of Davao de Oro distributes relief aid to displaced residents of Barangay Masara in Maco, Davao de Oro. (PIO Davao de Oro)

Fourteen more bodies were retrieved at the landslide site, bringing the total number of fatalities to 68 as of 3 p.m. on Monday, February 12. 

The Maco Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office said 51 remain missing with 32 survivors.

The MDRRMO also said that they may recommend that search and rescue operations shift to  search and retrieval on Tuesday, February 13, as hopes dim to find more survivors six days after the landslide.

Over 1,000 families are still in evacuation centers.

The landslide surpassed that in the same village in 2008 that left 24 dead, 32 injured, and two missing.

Pablo left a trail of destruction in the Davao region with about 1,000 people dead. Four-hundred fatalities and the 320 reported missing were from New Bataan, Davao de Oro, then known as Compostela Valley province.  

Macapili said that the number of missing persons was temporarily removed from the report as validation is still ongoing.    

He also said that several cadavers have been identified and claimed by their relatives.

A week after the incident, Macapili said that responders are still on search, rescue, and retrieval operations and still hoping to find more survivors from the site.

He added that there is no timeline yet on how long the search, rescue, and retrieval operations will go on.

Macapili said that the amount of soil and debris that covered the community was as high as 50 meters.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau reported that the landslide area was about nine hectares and 700 meters long from crown to foot.  

The MDRRMO said that about 55 houses have been buried.

The local government said there are 326 households in Masara. But the exact number of households in Zone 1 or Ground Zero is still being validated by the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office.

Aside from the houses, Apex Mining Co. confirmed that there were four 60-seat buses and one 36-person capacity jeep waiting for outgoing employees when the landslide happened.

One of the buses had left for Mawab, Davao de Oro, while the rest were still waiting for the bus during the landslide, the mining firm added. 

Masara, which has just over 1,000 residents, is one of the host communities of mining firm Apex Mining Co. that has two Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA) based on Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) records.

Macapili said that minor landslides and flooding also occurred in neighboring areas of Masara prior to the landslide. He added that some residents have evacuated due to the swelling of the nearby river.

The displaced families are now at the evacuation centers, he said.

Gov. Dorothy Gonzaga has already declared that she will not allow displaced residents of Masara to return home since it was already declared as a no-build zone since 2008.