Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Search continues for missing landslide victims in southern Philippines

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 19, 2009) – At least 45 people were dead and missing following a landslide at a gold rush site in the southern Philippine province of Compostela Valley, security officials said on Tuesday.

Officials said army soldiers and government militias were sent to help in the search for more than a dozen people reported missing since Monday’s landslide in the village of Napnapan in Pantukan town.

“Heavy rains loosened mud and boulders and the landslide killed at least 26 people and 19 others are still missing. We are searching for them,” Captain Rosa Maria Cristina Manuel, a spokeswoman for the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, told the Mindanao Examiner.

Manuel said at least 16 more were injured in the landslide. More than two dozen houses were either buried or destroyed by the landslide, she said.

She said Maj. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu, commander of the 10th Infantry Division, ordered more troops in the area to help in the search and rescue operation.

“Soldiers from the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion are helping rescuers in the area. Government militias are also helping search for those missing,” she said.

Philippine troops were deployed on a remote mountain town in Mindanao to help in search and rescue operation after a landslide buried small houses, officials said Saturday.

Late last year, at least a dozen people, among them children, were also killed in landslides in Monkayo and Maco towns, both gold rush areas in Compostela Valley.

Army soldiers were also sent in the province in the past to help rescuers search for landslide survivors. Many small scale miners put up thatched houses from near where they are digging for gold.

Authorities have previously banned miners from putting up houses and structures on mountain slopes because of the dangers posed by mudslides. Squatters have mushroomed in the area over the years despite similar incidents in the past. (Mindanao Examiner)

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