Landslide areas may be turned into memorial sitesCebu Daily News
Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental — Facing the possibility that not all remains of missing victims may be recovered, two mayors in Negros Oriental are considering turning areas engulfed by landslides into memorial sites.
Mayor Ernesto Reyes of Guihulngan City and Mayor Lawrence Limkaichong of La Libertad said they could not yet say when the retrieval operations for more than 50 missing villagers will end.
“The retrieval operations have been going on for five days and have so far come up with only four bodies recovered. The searchers said we cannot retrieve all the victims because of the magnitude of the landslide,” Limkaichong told the Inquirer.
He said various agencies and groups would have to meet to decide how long the diggings would continue in Barangay Solonggon in La Libertad and Barangay Planas in Guihulngan, the villages hit hardest by landslides following the 6.9-magnitude earthquake that struck Negros and Cebu islands on Feb. 6.
La Libertad Vice Mayor Emmanuel Iway said that it should be explained to the families of the missing that the most that could be done at this point was recovery of remains because there was no longer any chance of finding survivors.
The death toll from the earthquake and landslides in Negros Oriental rose to 41 on Saturday after retrieval teams recovered the remains of two victims in Barangay Solonggon and in Barangay Planas.
2nd Lt. Jan Batay-an of the Army’s 32nd Division Reconnaissance Company said the remains of 69-year-old Estelita Pocong were dug out in Barangay Solonggon around 10:20 a.m. at the upper portion of the around 25-meter-high landslide mound.
The body of another victim, Asor Mahinay, 79, was found by members of the Carmen Copper Corp. Mining Company and the Makati Rescue Group inside his house buried under three meters of earth.
Recovery operations were suspended Saturday afternoon in Barangay Solonggon after two aftershocks occurred, Batay-an said in a telephone interview.
“There is a fissure in the area and this might give way,” he said.
Some victims in Guihulngan complained of the delay in the delivery of food assistance and the concentration of distribution of the goods in the house of Reyes in the city proper.
One resident who spoke to the Inquirer on condition of anonymity said that relief assistance reached the barangay only on Friday evening, or four days after the earthquake struck.
Reyes denied that he was controlling the distribution of relief assistance. /INQUIRER