Landslide Death Toll Rises as Earthquake Hampers Rescue Efforts

This screengrab from AFPTV aerial video footage taken on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, shows the site of a landslide in Davao de Oro province on Mindanao island in the southern Philippines. At least five people were killed and 31 injured when a rain-induced landslide engulfed two buses and houses in a mountainous region of the southern Philippines, an official said. PHOTO BY RENANTE NAPARAN/AFP
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The devastating landslide in Davao de Oro on Tuesday has resulted in a tragic loss of life, with the number of casualties now reaching 28, according to authorities. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) has reported that 35 individuals have been injured, while 89 people remain missing. These figures are still subject to validation.

The landslide, which buried several houses and two buses that were transporting miners, has affected a total of 1,315 families or 5,318 individuals from four villages. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau has attributed the cause of the landslide to persistent rains in the province since late January, which weakened the terrain.

Most of the victims believed to be buried in the landslide were workers of Apex Mining Corp. In a statement released on Saturday, Apex Mining President and CEO, Luis Sarmiento, expressed deep sadness over the tragedy and pledged to provide assistance to the victims while cooperating with the authorities. Sarmiento acknowledged the immense pain that the families of the missing and the deceased are going through.

As of now, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has not imposed any sanctions on Apex Mining. The company maintains that the landslide occurred outside its mining area, and further investigations will determine the extent of their liability in this incident.

Unfortunately, the rescue operations conducted by national and local government agencies were forced to halt due to an earthquake that struck the region on Saturday. While there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the magnitude 5.8 quake that shook the Mindanao region, rescuers were ordered to stop their search in the remote gold-mining village of Masara. The safety of the rescuers was prioritized, and they were instructed to move to a safer area.

More than 30 minutes later, rescue efforts had not yet resumed as drones were deployed to assess the area for potential secondary landslides. The fear of endangering the lives of the rescuers prompted this cautious approach. The epicenter of the earthquake is approximately 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of the landslide site.

The situation in Davao de Oro remains dire as the community grapples with the aftermath of this tragedy. The search for the missing individuals continues, and efforts to provide support and aid to the affected families are ongoing. The local authorities, along with Apex Mining Corp, are working together to navigate the challenges presented by this devastating event.

It is crucial for us to stand in solidarity with the people of Davao de Oro during this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families who have lost loved ones, and we hope for the safe return of those who are still missing. The resilience and strength of the community will undoubtedly play a vital role in their recovery and rebuilding process.

Source: The Manila Times

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