‘Missing’ persons in landslide area now at 110, says local gov’t | Inquirer News

‘Missing’ persons in landslide area now at 110, says local gov’t

/ 05:36 AM February 09, 2024

landslide in Maco, Davao de Oro.

RESCUE, FIRST-AID OPS A rescue team of the Philippine Army’s 60th Infantry Battalion arrives in Tagum, Davao del Norte, with one of the injured airlifted from the site of the Feb. 6 landslide in Maco, Davao de Oro. —PHOTO FROM THE PHILIPPINE ARMY AND PHILIPPINE RED CROSS

MACO, DAVAO DE ORO—More families in the landslide-hit Masara village here have gone to authorities to report their missing loved ones.

The Maco municipal information office had recorded 110 missing persons as of 4 p.m. on Thursday in connection with the Feb. 6 landslide that engulfed parts of the village and buried two buses used to ferry employees of Apex Mining Co. Inc., which operates a gold mine in the mountainous region.


The latest figure was more than double the 46 initially reported on Wednesday. Of the 110 missing persons, 45 are Apex employees.


The confirmed deaths rose to 11—from seven on Wednesday—as searchers raced against time and weather. Thirty-one people were earlier reported injured.

Using bare hands

Maco information officer Jiesyl Mae Tan said the command post set up by the local government in Barangay Elizalde, some five kilometers away from Masara, had received a stream of families reporting missing members.

“It’s still search and rescue. We’re still hoping to see signs of life in the area,” Tan told the Inquirer.

Two days after the rain-induced landslide, rescuers used their bare hands and shovels on Thursday to dig through mud in a desperate search for survivors.

“It is everybody’s hope that people are still alive,” said provincial disaster agency official Edward Macapili. “Our rescue team is in a hurry because every second counts when it comes to human life.”


The landslide left a deep, brown gouge down the mountain. Rescuers pulled a person alive from the mud 11 hours after it hit, Macapili said.

“So there’s a chance,” he added.

Police, soldiers and rescuers from Davao de Oro and the adjacent Davao del Norte province have been deployed to Masara to help.

While rescuers were using heavy earth-moving equipment in places, they had to rely on their bare hands and shovels in areas where they believed there were bodies, Macapili said.

“The soil that covered the buses was very thick—it could almost cover a two-story building,” he said.

At least 20 mine workers are believed to be entombed in the vehicles.

Four more bodies

Hundreds of families from Masara and four nearby villages have had to evacuate from their homes and shelter in emergency centers for fear of further landslides.

The state weather bureau has also warned that flash floods and landslides caused by moderate to heavy rain could strike the province in the coming days.

Rescuers resumed their search for survivors at 8 a.m. on Thursday, some 36 hours after the landslide. But they were forced to pause from 11 a.m. to noon amid continuing rain and as rocks were seen rolling downhill.

Rescue operations were called off for the day around 4:30 p.m. Of the additional four bodies recovered on Thursday, one was that of an Apex company driver.

The municipal disaster management office identified 10 of the 11 fatalities: Archie Pasindo, Jundyl Saño, Rotsheli Nuñez, Slago Garin, Jay-Ar Domingo Aseña, Jonel Rabe, Helbert Nuñez, Junilo Ragas Sr., Ruben Calunsag and Ronald Canoy.

Hard to access

Officials continued to have difficulty penetrating the disaster area due to the poor road conditions, mobile phone signal, and the continuing threat of small landslides.

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As of the latest count on Thursday afternoon, some 1,166 families from Masara and the nearby villages of Mainit, Elizalde, Tagbaros and Panibasan have been moved to evacuation centers.

They were given shelter at public schools in Nuevo Iloco and Andili villages and other areas near Mawab. Classes in Maco town remained suspended at all levels. —With a report from AFP

TAGS: Davao de Oro, Landslide

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