40 trapped in landslide-hit bunkhouse in Benguet, bodies recovered

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 16 2018 07:34 PM

MANILA - Several bodies were recovered from a bunkhouse near a mining site that was buried in a landslide in Itogon, Benguet, police said Sunday.

As of 4:20 p.m., police have recovered 4 bodies from the bunkhouse in Barangay Ucab where over 40 people were trapped.

"Nasa ibabaw kami ng mismong building na natabunan. Mukhang wala na po. May apat nang nakuha dito sa area," Senior Superintendent Lyndon Mencio, Benguet provincial police chief, told radio DZMM. 

(We're on top of the building that was buried. There seem to be no signs of life. We have already recovered 4 bodies in the area.)

 

He said recovery operations by the police and military are ongoing, with the help of some volunteers. But he said they may pull out of the area before evening to avoid more accidents. 

Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan earlier told DZMM that 40 to 50 people were trapped in the buried bunkhouse in Barangay Ucab, a village where most residents are miners.

Chief Supt. Rolando Nana, Cordillera regional police director, said most of the people that were trapped in the bunkhouse were miners. 

"Meron tayong mining sites dito kaya dito karamihan dito mga minero. Malapit ito sa Benguet Consolidated Mines. May mga tirahan na sila dito," he told DZMM.

(We have mining sites here. This is near the Benguet Consolidated Mines. They have makeshift houses here.)

The police official hopes the roads leading to the site would be cleared as debris continue to block the main pathway towards the area.

Kennedy Waclin, chief of Barangay Ucab, said the rains brought by the southwest monsoon (habagat) days before typhoon Ompong came softened the earth in their place.

Rains brought Ompong, the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines so far this year, also flooded different towns in Benguet, including Baguio City.

"Grabe kasi 'yung dumaan na habagat parang nagunaw 'yung lupa. Tapos saka pumasok itong malaks na typhoon kaya medyo grabe ang gumuhong bundok," he told DZMM. 

Palangdan earlier blamed mining for the landslides in the town. He said he will stop mining operations that have caused sinkholes not only to Itogon but also in other cities and towns in Benguet.

"No more mining should be done in this municipality," he said.