Photos released to the Mindanao Examiner by the Army's 10th Infantry Division show the area in Compostela Vallay's Pantukan town where the landslide occurred. (Mindanao Examiner Text)
DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 24, 2011) – Philippine military and civilian rescuers continued searching Sunday for missing villagers buried alive in a landslide that hit a mountain community in the southern province of Compostela Valley, officials said.
Officials said the rescuers were frantically digging by hands through mud and boulders in Pantukan town where as many as 50 people had been earlier reported buried after a portion of the mountain collapsed at dawn Friday.
“Rescuers are digging through mud with their bare hands in an effort to find any survivors. At least three of seven tunnels used by small-scale miners were buried in the landslide,” said Army Major Rosa Maria Cristina Manuel, a spokesperson for the 10th Infantry Division.
She said three people were confirmed dead and that 13 other had been rescued since Friday in the village called Panganason, a known gold-rush area in the town.
Heavy rains since last week have loosed mud and boulders which triggered the landslide.
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.
“The rescue efforts are really difficult because there are no more access roads where bulldozers can pass. Rescuers are now resorting to digging by hands, sticks and anything they can use to find survivors or bodies,” Manuel said.
Defense chief Voltaire Gazmin also flew to the province from Manila to oversee the rescue efforts. “The Defense Secretary was briefed about the progress of the rescue efforts,” she said. (Mindanao Examiner)