Search continues for survivors in Benguet landslide

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2018 09:47 AM | Updated as of Sep 17 2018 08:24 PM

Rescuers retrieve one of the bodies buried under tons of mud in Barangay. Ucab, Itogon Benguet on September 17, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

ITOGON, Benguet - Authorities in this mountain town on Monday resumed the search for dozens of people believed to be trapped in a mine that was buried by landslides due to Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut).

Around 300 police officers, firemen and volunteers shoveled mud and debris in Barangay Ucab as a landslide in a nearby village blocked heavy equipment.

Rescuers drenched the ground with water to soften it, before clearing it with shovels or gloved hands in some cases.

In the Cordilleras alone, 54 people died mostly due to landslides, 34 of whom were from Itogon, said the regional police director, Chief Supt. Rolando Nana.

Nana estimates up to 36 people are missing in Itogon. Department of Interior and Local Government Cordillera regional director Mario Iringan placed it at 42.

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The world's biggest storm this year pummeled northern Luzon with fierce winds and rains over the weekend, demolishing houses and swamping farmlands.

The landslide in Ucab village buried miners' bunkhouses, said Nana.

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Two miners survived the landslide by crawling through a tunnel, said Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan.

The group ignored warnings from policemen and disaster officials who attempted to move them out of harm's way last week, he said in a separate DZMM interview.

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"Ang alam nila safe iyung kanilang lugar kaya privately by themselves alone ginawang evacuation center... Hindi po natin pinayagan, pero talagang lalaban po sila kaya walang nagawa ang kapulisan natin kundi umalis na lang," he said.
 
(They thought their area was safe so they turned it into an evacuation center by themselves. We did not allow them to do so, but they threatened to fight us off so our policemen were forced to just leave.)

Rescuers race to find landslide survivors in Itogon. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Rescuers race to find landslide survivors in Itogon. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Rescuers race to find landslide survivors in Itogon. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Rescuers race to find landslide survivors in Itogon. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The area has been abandoned since 2009 after an accident prompted the environment department to ban all mining activities in Itogon, he added.

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The weather in the Philippines is expected to start improving before Monday noon as a ridge high pressure area off northern Luzon becomes the prevalent weather system, said state weather bureau PAGASA.

There is no low pressure area or potential storm likely to form in the country in the next 2 days, said state meteorologist Meno Mendoza.

With a report from Jonathan Cellona