MULTIMEDIA

Itogon: Band of miners

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 20 2018 10:57 PM | Updated as of Sep 21 2018 04:35 PM

They came to dig, this time not for gold, but for buddies lost under tons of soil.

Forty-nine bodies have so far been recovered from Itogon, 22 from Barangay Ucab alone, with dozens more still missing.

The tragedy in Itogon started way before typhoon Ompong triggered a massive landslide that buried the village in Benguet.

The village was home to families of small-scale miners making a living by digging for gold in tunnels on the cliff of the mountain. 

It is true that the residents were warned to leave before Ompong came on Sept. 15, and that the area had long been declared unsafe for habitation. But that is just like telling a fisherman that he should stay away from the ocean.

There are reports small-scale mining was encouraged so that gold would continue to be mined and sold, albeit under the radar.

That is now all moot, and the miners face the gargantuan task of digging for one of their own under the earth.

Miners line up as they register for the search and retrieval operation in Barangay Ucab, Itogon, Benguet on September 18, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The site of the massive landslide in Barangay Ucab, Itogon, Benguet in this photo taken on September 17, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Relatives turn emotional as they wait for word on their missing relatives in Barangay Ucab. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Rescue workers from the Army and police assist locals in the search and retrieval operation for those missing in Barangay Ucab. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Search and retrieval operation continue in Barangay Ucab, Itogon, Benguet in this photo taken on September 17, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Volunteers manually move rocks as they search for victims under the rubble during the search and rescue operation on September 17, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

A body is lifted from the rubble at the landslide site in Barangay Ucab, Itogon, Benguet on September 17, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

A miner carries his tools as he joins the search and retrieval operations at Barangay Ucab, Itogon, Benguet. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

A body is lifted from the rubble at the landslide site in Barangay Ucab, Itogon, Benguet on September 17, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

An old man turns emotional as he looks at his son-in-law, who was killed in the massive landslide in Barangay Ucab, Itogon, Benguet in this photo taken September 17, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Fellow miners and relatives wait at a shed for bodies yet to be recovered from the site of the Itogon landslide, September 17, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

A volunteer checks the site of the massive landslide in Itogon, Benguet. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Rescue workers carry a casualty during the search and retrieval operation in Itogon, Benguet. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Rescue workers pull a gurney on September 17,2018 carrying the remains of a casualty in the massive landslide in Barangay Ucab, Itogon, Benguet. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Miner-volunteers take a rest at the landslide site in Barangay Ucab, Itogon, Benguet on September 19, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Rescue workers leave their protective gears as they take a rest from the search and retrieval operation in Barangay Ucab, Itogon Benguet on September 19, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Body bags containing the remains of casualties are kept in the shade during the search and retrieval operation in Barangay Ucab, Itogon, Benguet on September 17, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Relatives console each other as they wait for updates on their missing loved ones on the fourth day of search and retrieval operations in Barangay Ucab, Itogon on September 19, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

People look as a woman updates a list of casualties and missing residents on the fourth day of search and retrieval operations in Barangay Ucab, Itogon, Benguet on September 19, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Men carry a coffin past waiting relatives on the fourth day of search and retrieval operations in Barangay Ucab, Itogon, Benguet on September 19, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

People are reflected on the windshield of a hearse at the command post in Barangay Ucab, Itogon, Benguet, as search and retrieval entered its fourth day on September 19, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News