3 more bodies recovered from Compostela landslide

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 25 2011 12:39 PM | Updated as of Apr 27 2011 12:55 AM

Search and rescue operations to be suspended indefinitely

MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) - Three more bodies have been recovered from the landslide-hit area in Compostela Valley.

Philippine Red Cross' Joseph Randy Loi said two bodies were recovered separately at 8:55 and 10:40 Monday morning.

Another was recovered at 11:00 a.m. The unidentified remains were said to be in an advanced state of decomposition.

This morning's find brings the number of dead to 8 while 14 others remain missing. Retrieval operations continue in the area.

The numbers have yet to be “cleared” by higher officials, a report from ABS-CBN News Jeff Canoy said.

The landslide-hit Kingking, a remote mountain district near Pantukan on the main southern island of Mindanao before dawn Friday after heavy rain, burying illegal gold mines as well as houses, stores, and crude gold processing mills.

Pantukan town Mayor Celso Sarenas said chances of survival for the other victims are slim.

Sarenas said search and rescue operations may be halted tomorrow because of the dangers also facing rescuers. He said the operations will be suspended “indefinitely.”

Geologists saw a crack in the same area, which is moving “3 inches every 24 hours.” This may result to another “potential landslide,” he added.

This is precisely the reason why officials have already directed a forced relocation of the families still living in the area.

The relocation will start at 2:00 p.m. today. Some 112 families should have been evacuated by 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Sarenas said.

Major General Jorge Segovia, commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, told ANC Top Story that the ongoing evacuation is voluntary until the Tuesday 4 p.m. deadline arrives.

He said a forced evacuation will be implemented if some residents refuse to heed advice to seek safer ground.

"We hope these people will understand the risk and will evacuate voluntarily," he added.

Segovia said local leaders are conducting dialogues with affected families to convince them to leave the area.

He added that temporary shelters have been set up for evacuees. – Reports from  Francis Magbanua, ABS-CBN News Davao; Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN News; ANC