‘Miracle’: Tot found alive after 60 hours under mud | Inquirer News

‘Miracle’: Tot found alive after 60 hours under mud

/ 05:30 AM February 10, 2024

A Philippine Red Cross (PRC) teamattendsto the 3-year-old girl who was pulled alive from under tons of mud and debris on Friday, three days after the Feb. 6 landslide that hit the mining village of Masara in Maco, Davao de Oro.

GLIMMER OF HOPE A Philippine Red Cross (PRC) team attends to the 3-year-old girl who was pulled alive from under tons of mud and debris on Friday, three days after the Feb. 6 landslide
that hit the mining village of Masara in Maco, Davao de Oro. —PRC PHOTO

MACO, DAVAO DE ORO—A 3-year-old girl was pulled alive from under tons of mud and debris in Maco town’s Masara village early Friday in a “miracle” that lifted the morale and spirits of rescuers who were hoping to find other survivors of a massive landslide early this week.

By 6 p.m., however, 16 more bodies were recovered, raising the death toll to 27 with 110 missing. Thirty-two were injured, including the toddler, according to the Maco disaster management office.


The landslide struck Tuesday night, destroying houses and engulfing three buses and a jeepney waiting to pick up workers from Apex Mining Co. Inc. (Amci).


According to the rescuers, the girl was plucked out as they were digging near one of the half-buried vehicles. They were backed by heavy earth-moving equipment at past 6 a.m. when they found the child, some 60 hours after mud and boulders cascaded down a mountain across the Hijo River.

Source of hope

A Philippine Red Cross ambulance took the girl to Doctors Community Hospital in nearby Mawab town, about 25 km from Masara.

A security officer told the Inquirer that the girl’s father, who was at an evacuation center in Mawab, accompanied her from the hospital to Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum where she was transferred.

“It’s a miracle,” disaster agency official Edward Macapili of Davao de Oro province told the French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“That gives hope to the rescuers. A child’s resilience is usually less than that of adults, yet the child survived,” he said.

For validation

Video of a rescuer carrying the crying, mud-caked child in his arms was shared on Facebook.


“We can see in the social media posts that the child did not have any visible injuries,” Macapili said.

Maco information officer Jiesyl Mae Tan said they were hopeful after rescuers recovered the child alive.

“We’re very hopeful our rescuers can find and rescue more survivors,” she added.Disaster response authorities have been swamped with reports from people with missing relatives.

Despite the recovery of four more bodies on Friday, the local government’s incident command post in Elizalde still reported 110 missing, 45 of them Amci employees, as the authorities have yet to identify them.

The number is being validated by the Management of the Dead and Missing Cluster with help from the National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, according to the local disaster office.

Need to pause

Tan said search and rescue would continue as long as it was still safe for the rescue teams.

“Like in previous days, we had to stop our operation at 4 p.m. because it was raining and it’s not safe for our rescuers to continue,” she explained.

A safety officer gives the clearance when it is safe to continue, Tan said.

Search and rescue teams were in a race against time and weather to find anyone else alive in the thick mud as rain fell over the area on Friday.

Sniffer dogs were also being used to detect those buried in the mud and rubble.

Rain has pounded parts of Mindanao on and off for weeks, triggering dozens of landslides and flooding that have forced tens of thousands of people into emergency shelters.

Strong earthquakes have also destabilized the region in recent months.

No-build zone

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.

Schools across the municipality have suspended classes.

The area hit by the landslide had been declared a “no-build zone” after previous landslides in 2007 and 2008, Macapili said.

“People were asked to leave that place and they were given a resettlement area, but the people are so hard-headed and they returned,” he said.

Tan said that prior to the landslide on Tuesday night, the local government had ordered the evacuation of residents of the villages of Masara, Mainit, Elizalde, Tagbaros and Panibasan.

But some returned to check on their belongings and to prepare food.

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The casualties could have been higher without the forced evacuation, Tan said. —WITH A REPORT FROM AFP

TAGS: Davao de Oro, Landslide, Survivor

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