New landslide kills 21, buries houses in Philippines

Blanche Robertson
September 21, 2018

Twelve people were pulled out alive after boulders and earth loosened by rain engulfed a cluster of homes near a limestone quarry on the fringes of Naga City on the island of Cebu, where the tally of those missing stood at about 50.

"President Duterte mentioned that he has directed NHA (National Housing Authority) GM Jun Escalada and HUDCC (Housing and Urban Development Development Coordinating Council) Chair Ed Del Rosario to immediately visit the City of Naga, and to coordinate with Cebu Gov. Jun Davide and Naga Mayor Kristine Chiong for the provision of housing for the victims", the President's assistant Christopher Go said. "They are covered in shallow earth, we need a backhoe", Parba said. "Some of them managed to send text messages", he said, raising hopes that they are trapped in air pockets in the debris. Some who were trapped in the sludge managed to send text messages pleading for help, but the messages stopped within a few hours.

The landslide happened just days after Typhoon Mangkhut wreaked havoc in the Philippines, leaving at least 95 people dead nationwide. A massive search is still underway for dozens of people feared dead after landslides in the gold-mining town of Itogon in the north.

While Mangkhut, locally called Ompong, did not directly hit the central Philippines island, it intensified monsoon rains that could have played a role in destabilising the mountainside in Naga city.

Rescuers were treading carefully in small groups on the unstable ground to avoid further casualties. "We're striking a balance between intensifying our rescue efforts and ensuring the safety of our rescuers", Naga city Coun. The ground in the area is still vibrating. Survivors heard a thunderous roar, crashing and banging when the mountainside collapsed onto houses in two villages on Thursday morning. "All of us ran out", Villarba said.

Massive landslide kills 21, buries dozens of homes in Philippines

Dennis Pansoy, a 41-year-old shipyard worker, had left his wife, two sons and two other relatives in the family home for less than an hour on his way to work when the landslide buried his neighborhood.

"Many of our neighbours were crying and screaming for help".

Elsewhere in the landslide-hit community, a father and his young daughter were found dead in each other's embrace in a house, volunteer rescuer Vic Santillan said.

"I had no idea we would be the next", she said.

While he admits that the mining industry of the country has contributed P70 billion in revenues to the government, the President said this is not enough to compensate for the loss of lives and grief when disasters happen. It is lashed by about 20 tropical storms each year and has active seismic faults where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. Poverty has forced many to live on or near volcanoes, steep mountains and storm-vulnerable coasts, often leading to disasters.

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