Where the earth shook and graves cracked open
DAVAO CITY—On Tuesday morning, three villagers from Upper Bala in Magsaysay, Davao del Sur province, set out for the mountainside sitio of Labidangan to check on the water line to the community.
As they reached the place, the earth shook.
A 6.6-magnitude earthquake had struck, and Gilbert Superales, Alson Attic and Miggy Attic were swept off the mountain by a landslide that dislodged boulders and brought down large trees.
Alson was lucky to have been retrieved by other villagers and rescuers who rushed to the area, some two hours away on foot from Upper Bala’s center.
When hauled out of the debris, Alson had a fractured leg, Anthony Allada, municipal information officer, told the Inquirer.
In nearby Barangay Tagaytay, Benita Saban was also buried in a landslide.
Miggy, Superales and Saban had been listed as missing by the local government, but they were later presumed dead, Allada said.
Quoting Alson, Allada said Superales and Miggy were buried under soil, boulders and trees.
Mario Saban, Benita’s son, had a similar account of what had befallen his mother.
Allada said the relatives of the three victims appeared to have accepted that they were dead.
He said the two mountainside communities had been isolated from the main barangay center by a succession of landslides caused by a series of tremors beginning Oct. 16.
The retrieval operations were made more difficult by heavy rain that came toward evening, Allada said.
If not for repair works on the water system, he said, Superales, Miggy and Alson would not have been allowed to go back to Labidangan.
More than a week ago, the residents of Labidangan were evacuated by the local government after fissures opened on the ground and parts of the community were buried by landslides.
The Oct. 16 quake also cracked open several graves in the local cemetery, but the local government was unable to immediately repair the damage as it had to give priority to the evacuation.
Thursday’s 6.5-magnitude earthquake caused fresh landslides, making it more impossible for the 70 evacuated families to return to the village.
They will spend All Saints’ Day in the shelters. It’s their first Day of the Dead away from the cemetery.
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