Digging continues as Cebu landslide death toll rises to 45

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 23 2018 10:48 AM

FILE PHOTO: Rescuers search for survivors at the landslide site in Naga City, on the popular tourist island of Cebu. Alan Tangcawan, AFP

NAGA, Cebu - The death toll from a landslide in this city climbed to 45 on Sunday, as authorities dug for the fourth straight day for dozens feared trapped beneath tons of rock and soil. 

The landslide struck Sitio Sindulan, Barangay Tinaan before dawn on Thursday after heavy rains, burying some 20 houses near a quarry site. 

Authorities were still searching for 34 missing, the local disaster office said. 

"We’re hopeful that there are survivors this is why we’re not stopping. We have so many spotters now in the area and some residents are also here to guide and help," said Baltz Tribunalo, head of the Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office. 

Authorities are verifying reports of victims said to be asking help from their families through text messages, he said. 

Ambulances and medical teams are on standby at the area to transport potential survivors. 

Search operations will only be suspended if rains threaten to unleash fresh landslides, said Tribunalo. 

Searchers claw through the rubble at a landslide site in Naga City, Cebu on Sunday. ABS-CBN News

President Rodrigo Duterte has visited an evacuation center where some 1,500 residents sought shelter after the landslide. 

Cebu was not directly hit last week by typhoon Ompong, but has been pounded by heavy monsoon rain for days, making the slopes dangerously loose.

The Cebu landslide came as searchers in the Philippines' north continued to work to recover bodies of dozens of people buried in a landslide unleashed Saturday by Ompong. 

Most of the 95 people killed by Ompong died in landslides in the mountainous gold-mining Cordillera region that includes Itogon, Benguet.

Ompong also dumped torrential rains on the key agricultural areas of the Philippines' main northern island of Luzon, causing crop losses that would likely total more than $250 million.

- With reports from Donna Lavares and Jude Torres, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse