At least 21 dead, 74 missing in Naga, Cebu landslide

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2018 01:38 AM | Updated as of Sep 21 2018 10:36 AM

At least 21 dead, 74 missing in Naga, Cebu landslide 1
Rescuers pull out a survivor from rubble after a landslide in the City of Naga, Cebu on September 20, 2018. Reuters/Stringer

NAGA CITY - A landslide triggered by heavy rains killed at least 21 persons in Naga City, Cebu on Thursday morning, authorities said.

A portion of the mountain collapsed and buried around 24 houses in Barangays Tina-an and Naalad, police said.

"We were able to retrieve 21 mga fatalities, yung patay, sir. Bente uno na," said Baltazar Tribunado Jr., an official of the local disaster office told DZMM Teleradyo early Friday morning.

Nine persons, meanwhile, have been rescued from the rubble as of 10:20 p.m. Thursday, according to the police.

Rescue operations in Cebu were being hampered by rains and loose soil, the provincial government said.

"The responders have to be careful in the retrieval and rescue operations," Gary Cabotaje, a city government spokesman, told ANC. "Most of them are using pickaxes and shovels because it's dangerous to use heavy equipment."

Tribunado said rescuers temporarily stopped their operation Thursday night due to rains and the possibility of another landslide.

Firefighters, navy, army and police joined the effort to find people trapped alive in the debris of crushed homes.

Resident Vhann Quisido had a lucky escape when a tide of earth and rocks came to a halt behind his house.

"I was sleeping when I heard a loud noise," he said by telephone. "I was waiting for the land to come into our house. It was very traumatic."

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As of 11 p.m. Thursday, the Naga City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said 13 were also reported injured, while 74 remain missing.

Some 500 families in 3 villages fled to an evacuation center after the landslide. 

Residents were advised to evacuate from the area about 2 weeks ago after fissures were spotted on the ground, according to Marian Codilla, information officer of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau office in Cebu.

Ompong, the strongest typhoon to hit the country so far this year, caused more than 100 landslides, mostly in the mountainous Cordillera region in northern Luzon. 

A major recovery effort was also underway in Itogon at a small mining site, where the bodies of 28 people, mostly miners, had been found. Rescuers looking for 52 people buried since Saturday said there was little chance of finding survivors. 

The storm's death toll countrywide was 88 by Thursday, police said, the majority from the landslides. - with a report from Reuters