Hopes dim for missing landslide victimsBy Joey A. Gabieta |Inquirer Visayas
ORMOC CITY—Rescuers will continue looking for nine workers buried alive in a landslide inside the geothermal complex of Energy Development Corp. (EDC) in Kananga town, Leyte, company officials said.
If no survivor will be found by Tuesday, operations will be downgraded to retrieval of bodies, said Alberto Ignacio, senior vice president of First Balfour, EDC contractor.
“We don’t want to prolong the agony of anyone. I cannot tell them (families of the missing workers) that it would be indefinite. So, there must be a timetable as to when we complete the rescue and retrieval operations,” Ignacio said.
“I am also a Christian and I’m hoping for the best,” he added.
A landslide hit EDC’s Pad 403 in Upper Mahiao, Barangay Lim-ao, while 45 workers were constructing a concrete shelter to protect steam pipes from cascading soil and rocks. Five workers were killed, while 21 others were hurt.
Nine remained missing. They were identified as Abelardo Permanghel, Marlon Buanghog, Uldarico Taboranza, Salvador Yabana, Jorden Salcedo, Romeo Yazar, Salvador Lascañas Jr., Alfredo Arabis and Danilo Mabatis.
Rains and unstable ground had hampered efforts to locate the missing by 50 rescuers belonging to the safety and rescue teams of EDC, city government and the Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion based in Kananga. The group is led by Ross Taguiam, EDC chief of the health, environment, security and safety unit.
Ignacio said the company would provide financial assistance to the families of the victims.
Promise of work
The wife of Bonifacio Polinio, 33, one of the five workers killed in the landslide, was given burial and financial assistance, as well as a job at the EDC complex.
“They promised to give me work at EDC. I hope they will make good their promise,” said Ruffa Polinio, 21.
She said her husband’s death was painful, especially since they had planned to finally get married in March after living together for six years. They have a 4-year-old son.