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Residents trapped in landslide-hit town airlifted to safety

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Cotabato, Philippines — The last 14 residents who remained trapped in Barangay Luayon in Makilala town were finally airlifted to safety before noon on Sunday.

The Philippine Air Force rescued the residents trapped inside the village, which had been isolated by huge fissures on the grounds and landslides that blocked roads after a magnitude 6.5 earthquake jolted large parts of Mindanao on Oct. 31.

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The rescue came a day after soldiers and civilian rescuers dropped relief supplies from the sky because the helicopter had a problem landing in the area because of the presence of debris.

Debris and impassable roads caused delays in the government’s rescue efforts.

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Cotabato OIC Vice Governor Shirlyn Macasarte-Villanueva, who joined a rescue mission, said she saw “indescribable destruction” in the most affected town of Makilala during the aerial inspection on Saturday, as they launched their first attempt to rescue the trapped villagers.

“From the helicopter, I saw children and women waving white flags. I also saw a group of people with their bags. I think they are leaving the area,” she said.

Villanueva said they decided to airdrop the relief goods on Saturday in an area close to the people since their helicopter had trouble landing in the area, which still covered with debris.

Barangay Luayon, which sits in the southeast of Mount Ago, used to be just a two-hour drive from the town proper of Makilala. It was among the areas devastated by landslides triggered by the quake.

A photo released by the provincial government shows rescuers helping residents to board the helicopter from what looked like a fresh landslide site, still covered by huge cracks left by the quake.

At the Makilala Elementary School, Mailine Danola, 30, an evacuee from Barangay Luayon, thanked the government and other people who helped them get through their traumatic experience.

“Our house is gone. We evacuate carrying nothing. The assistance from the government is a big help to us,” Danola said.

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The death toll in the three earthquakes has already reached 21, even as the government recorded nearly 28,000 families displaced in areas devastated by strong tremors.

Seven persons are still missing and feared to be dead after they were buried in landslides in Makilala, Cotabato. Among them were four residents from Bato, who were buried during the landslide caused by the Oct. 29 quake, according to reports from the Makilala Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (DRRMO).

The Makilala DRRMO also named the missing Bato residents as Renante Nudalo, Grace Nudalo, Freddie Bago and Jonathan Lamar.

In Sitio Balawan, Barangay Malasila, three more persons have been reported missing — namely, Rosalino Dayday Sr., 52; Rolando Ansero Jr., 15′ and Trium Picao, 14.

Dayday Sr.’s son Rosalino Dayday Jr. believed his father could have died in a huge avalanche that buried their house completely on Thursday, Oct. 31.

Ansero Jr. and Picao, their neighbors, were also missing.

Dayday Jr. said they wanted to recover his father’s body, but the area had been too dangerous for them to enter.

“We are waiting for the government to help recover the body so that we could give it a proper burial,” Dayday Jr. said.

The earthquake caused massive landslides in Makilala and here in Kidapawan, the capital city of Cotabato.

Makilala Vice Mayor Ryan Tabanay had declared Sitio Basak, Barangay Malabuan as a “no man’s zone” because of high risks of landslides, posing real threats to residents’ lives.

The government ordered the forced evacuation of residents in the Barangays Buhay, Batasan, Buenavida and Indangan because of the threat of landslides.

Electricity in 10 barangays in Makilala has not yet been restored.

Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Coitleco) manager Godofredo Homez said they could not restore power yet as some of the affected areas were still rendered inaccessible due to landslides and fissures.

Power supplies cannot be restored yet in some areas like Barangays Buena Vida, Biangan, Batasan, Bato and Indangan where almost all houses are totally damaged.

Homez said they we trying their best to restore power to all evacuation centers and areas with tents while they could yet enter landslide-hit areas.

They will also provide cellphone charging stations in these areas.

/atm

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TAGS: Makilala town, Mindamano
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