At least seven lives were tragically lost, and 31 individuals sustained injuries when a rain-induced landslide struck a gold-mining village in the mountainous region of the southern Philippines. The incident occurred on Tuesday night in Masara, Davao de Oro province, on Mindanao island. The landslide wreaked havoc, destroying homes and engulfing two buses that were used to transport mine workers.
Efforts are currently underway to rescue approximately 20 people who are trapped inside the buses, with rescue teams tirelessly digging through the mud. Out of the 28 individuals on board the buses during the landslide, eight managed to escape unharmed through the windows before being swallowed by the mud. These buses were stationed outside a gold mine operated by Apex Mining, a Philippine company, in Masara village, serving as a drop-off and pick-up point for workers.
Tragically, the six fatalities have been identified as workers from Apex Mining. The Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) in Davao reported that these casualties were recovered from the landslide site during search and rescue operations conducted by military and local government first responders.
Initial reports suggested that 46 individuals were still missing, although it remains unclear whether this figure includes the 20 individuals trapped on the buses. The MDRRMO stated, “The rescue and retrieval operations are still progressing together with other government agencies and provincial rescue teams.”
Three survivors are in critical condition and require immediate evacuation by air, according to Eastern Mindanao Command spokesman Col. Rosa Ma Cristina Rosete-Manuel. As a precautionary measure, at least 758 families or 600 individuals from neighboring communities in Maco town have been evacuated to safer locations.
Due to the lack of digital communication signals in the area, the military has deployed analog radio equipment to maintain communication. Aerial footage reveals a deep, brown gouge on the side of a forested mountain that extends down to the village below, where several houses have been destroyed. The land above the landslide appears to have been cleared for agricultural purposes.
Rescue teams from across the region have been mobilized to aid in the search efforts across the vast area covered in mud. Edward Macapili, the provincial disaster official, explains that while equipment is available, much of the digging is being done manually to avoid the risk of injuring anyone trapped beneath the debris.
The landslide caught residents by surprise, as there were no apparent signs of an impending disaster. Macapili notes, “There was no sign that a landslide would occur because the rains stopped on Thursday, and by Friday, it was already sunny and hot.”
Adding to the challenges faced by the rescue teams, an earthquake shook the village shortly after the landslide. The search effort had to be temporarily halted due to safety concerns but resumed at daylight. It remains uncertain whether the mining tunnel beneath the mountain was damaged by the landslide.
Apex Mining, in a statement to the Philippine Stock Exchange, announced that it has scaled back operations to assist with the rescue efforts by providing equipment, personnel, and food.
Mindanao has been experiencing heavy rainfall intermittently for weeks, resulting in tens of thousands seeking refuge in shelters. The national disaster agency reported that at least 18 individuals lost their lives due to landslides and flooding in the region just last week.
In response to the dire situation, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has approved the release of P265 million from the Presidential Social Fund for relief efforts in Mindanao. During a situation briefing in Davao City, President Marcos emphasized that the affected communities require more than just food, stating, “They need to buy other things for their household.” Earlier in the day, he conducted an aerial inspection to assess the extent of the damage.
As rescue operations continue and the affected communities begin the long process of recovery, the nation mourns the lives lost and stands in solidarity with those affected by this devastating landslide.
Source: The Manila Times