Friday, April 22, 2011

Dozens buried alive as Philippine mountain collapses

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 22, 2011) – As many as 50 people are feared dead after a portion of a mountain in the southern Philippines collapsed on Friday and buried at least two dozen houses, officials told the Mindanao Examiner.

Officials said army soldiers who were first on the scene pulled out a body and rescued 11 people in the mountain village of Panganason in Compostela Valley’s Pantukan town.

“We have sent more troops to help in the rescue mission and two choppers were dispatched today to search for survivors from the air. But the pilots said the area was flattened and there is no sign of any survivors. As many as 40 or up to 50 are missing and we feared they are dead, but the search is continuing,” Lieutenant Colonel Lydon Paniza, a spokesman for the 10th Infantry Division, said by phone from the site.

Paniza said the stretch of the collapsed portion of the mountain could be well more than half a kilometer. “It was a frightful sight. At least 20 houses were buried under mud and boulders and the weather is bad and we are working double time here to find the missing,” he said, adding that part of the mountain collapsed at around 2.30 a.m. while most of the villagers were asleep.

He said of those rescued are in serious condition because of fractures and were rushed to hospital.

He said they warned villagers whose houses are near the mountain to evacuate for fear that rains could trigger more landslides or more portions of the area could give in. He said the part of the collapsed mountain was where dozens of tunnel had been by gold miners.

“Authorities have been telling these people repeatedly to get of the area because it is dangerous, but the miners and their families refused to heed the call. There have been many landslides and casualties in the past, but they still ignore the warning,” Paniza said.

Meteorological experts have earlier warned of more rains in central and eastern part of Mindanao because of the cold front affecting the weather system in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)

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