Itogon search ops to continue until all missing found: Tolentino


Posted at Sep 22 2018 01:40 PM | Updated as of Sep 22 2018 01:49 PM

MANILA - Search operations in Itogon, Benguet will continue until all missing persons have been accounted for, Presidential Political Adviser Francis Tolentino said Saturday.

This as authorities are expected to shift from rescue to retrieval operations in two days if they fail to find survivors. 

"Makakaasa po ang mga kababayan natin na hindi titigil ang kapulisan, ang sandatahang lakas, hangga't hindi nakukuha 'yung huling nawawala na mga kamag-anak nila," said Tolentino, who President Rodrigo Duterte had named his conduit for Ompong response. 

(They can rest assured the police and the military won't stop looking until we recover all of their missing relatives.)

In a press conference in Itogon, Tolentino said the DOH has discounted the possibility of finding survivors, while the Office of Civil Defense said "there is a slim chance."

"...[M]ay possibility pa na may buhay dahil napakaraming tunnel sa ilalim. At 'yung mga tunnel sa ilalim, may possibility na baka doon nagtago 'yung iba," Tolentino told reporters.

(There are many tunnels under the rubble. There is a possibility that some might be hiding there.)

But if the search fails to find survivors in the next two days, authorities will shift to retrieval operations.

"Kung walang positive result next two days, we will declare a retrieval operations na lang, na wala nang matatagpuang survivor, buhay," he added.

(If we do not get a positive result in the next two days, we will shift to retrieval operations, if we no longer find any survivors.)

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Tolentino said authorities are still looking for at least 30 people.

All week long, hundreds have been digging through the debris, looking for friends and relatives buried in the landslide triggered by Typhoon Ompong last weekend.

Ompong, the world's strongest typhoon this year, smashed through northern Luzon over the weekend, triggering floods and landslides in different parts of the country.

As of Wednesday, some 81 people have been confirmed dead in typhoon-hit areas, including those killed in landslides in Itogon.