Landslide death toll rises to 35; 76 still missing

Landslide death toll rises to 35; 76 still missing

/ 05:32 AM February 11, 2024

Rescuers recovered eight bodies and no survivors on Saturday, a day after their hopes were buoyed when they found a 3-year-old girl alive under the rubble more than two days after a landslide smashed into Barangay Masara.

NO OTHER SURVIVOR A search team carries the body of one of eight victims retrieved on
Saturday from the landslide that struck Barangay Masara, Maco, Davao de Oro on Feb. 6. (left

MACO, DAVAO DE ORO — Rescuers recovered eight bodies and no survivors on Saturday, a day after their hopes were buoyed when they found a 3-year-old girl alive under the rubble more than two days after a landslide smashed into Barangay Masara.

The mud and rocks that search and retrieval teams had to plow through over the past days had dried up and hardened, making it more difficult to dig for bodies or survivors of Tuesday night’s landslide that struck Zone 1 of the village.


One of the bodies was recovered Saturday morning and was brought to the local government’s incident command post in Elizalde village past 11 a.m. Seven more were retrieved in the afternoon.


62 houses damaged

The eight recovered raised the fatalities to 35. Ten of them had been identified, but the authorities did not disclose their names on Saturday.

Officials said there were 76 still missing, according to the Management of the Dead and the Missing Cluster, which includes the National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

An earlier figure of 110 missing came from relatives who could not find family members. The number included 45 workers of Apex Mining Co. Inc. (Amci), which has a mining operation near the village.

Tuesday night’s landslide destroyed houses and engulfed three buses and a jeepney waiting to pick up Amci workers.

A report from Maco’s municipal social welfare and development office said 62 houses in Masara were damaged, most of them buried in mud and boulders that rolled down a mountain following days of heavy rain.

Suspended due to quakesSearch operations were suspended twice on Saturday when the ground shook due to an earthquake around noon followed by another in the afternoon.


READ: Davao de Oro town landslide due to natural causes, says MGB exec

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said a strong 5.9 magnitude quake hit Agusan del Sur province, at 11:22 a.m. It was centered in Esperanza municipality at a depth of 27 kilometers.

Esperanza is about 125 km north of Davao de Oro’s Maco town. A 5.2 magnitude aftershock hit Esperanza at 1:21 p.m. In all, 10 aftershocks followed the strong morning tremor.

There were no reported injuries or infrastructure damage in Agusan del Sur or the surrounding areas.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Saturday called on Maco officials to double their efforts in finding suitable relocation sites for the families in Masara and four nearby villages that had been assessed to be highly vulnerable to landslides.

The MGB noted that their scientists have long notified the local government of this danger and advised the relocation based on various studies, especially after the 2007 and 2008 landslides that struck Masara.

“It can be recalled that a landslide occurred in the same area last September 6-7, 2008 due to heavy rainfall and deteriorating geophysical conditions. Since then, successive geohazard mapping and assessment were conducted by DENR-MGB-XI, results of which consistently show that the area is highly susceptible to landslides,” an MGB statement said on Saturday.

“Thus, the Department recommended the immediate relocation of the community of Brgy. Masara and for the area to be a ‘no-build zone,’” it added. Beverly Mae Bravante of MGB-11 said the heavy downpour experienced by the Davao region in January brought by the shear line and then the trough of a low pressure area had already loosened the soil on the mountains around Masara.

Bravante noted that the mountain’s soil is volcanic pyroclastic which is “easily being weathered and eroded” by heavy rains.

The soil type, the steep slope, the moisture from the rains and a fault line in the area all contributed to Tuesday night’s massive landslide.

There is a splay of the Philippine fault in the area, the MGB said.

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Except for the quakes, there were no other disruptions in the retrieval operations as the weather was fine on Saturday. —WITH A REPORT FROM JACOB LAZARO

TAGS: Davao, Landslide, missing, rescue

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