MANILA -- There will be no let up in the retrieval operations for the trapped miners in Barangay Ucab, Itogon in Benguet, a regional police official said Sunday as light rains continue to fall in the province in the wake of typhoon Ompong's onslaught.
Supt. Felicita Tacio, Cordillera provincial police's public information officer, said rescuers have already recovered 7 bodies from the site where the miners' bunkhouse was buried in mud during the height of heavy rains brought by Ompong.
"Nung nandun kami, sabi nila meron daw naiakyat na tatlo this morning. 'Yung apat na bangkay 'yun ang nakita namin doon sa kalsada mismo, bago kami bumaba. Bale pito 'yun sila," she told DZMM Teleradyo.
(When were there, the rescuers said they have already retrieved three this morning. We also saw four bodies on the road before we went down from the site. All in all there seven bodies.)
"Tuloy-tuloy tayo hanggang hindi natin nahuhukay 'yung iba. 'Yung bumagsak kasi dito, isang buong bundok mula sa taas, kaya mahaba 'yung binabaan niya, kaya maraming nadamay," Tacio added.
(We will continue the retrieval operations until we get all the bodies. It's hard because a whole mountain fell a long way down here so a lot were really affected.)
Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan earlier told DZMM that 40 to 50 people were trapped when a portion of the mountain in Barangay Ucab collapsed and buried the bunkhouse where small-scale miners were staying on Saturday afternoon.
Tacio said rescuers are having a hard time digging in the site because they were only using shovels. She said they can't bring heavy equipment to the landslide site because the road leading there has not been cleared.
The police officer said chances that some miners survived the landslide are slim, considering that they were trapped there for more than 24 hours already. But she said they are still not losing hope.
"Parang malabo na e. Kanina nung andun kami sa site may nakikita tayo na ulo ng isang tao. Pero masyado siyang ipit so hindi siya puwersahan na hahatakin doon kasi nakaipt siya. Wala na ring buhay," said Tacio.
(I think the chance of survival are slim. When were there, we saw a person's head. But we couldn't pull the person out because it was too tight. The person was lifeless.)
Mayor Palangdan said Sunday that the local government has recorded a total of 32 people dead in Itogon due to Ompong, the strongest typhoon to hit the country so far this year. He said 29 people were missing, while 7 others were injured.
Aside from Itogon, landslides were also reported in Baguio and Nueva Vizcaya.
Sr Supt. Benigno Durana, Philippine National Police spokesman, said updated figures showed that the total number of dead in the country due to Ompong has risen to 49 from the previously reported toll of 30.