Rescuers search for missing after deadly landslide in southern Philippines

BenarNews staff
Rescuers search for missing after deadly landslide in southern Philippines Rescuers conduct a rescue and retrieval operation after a deadly landslide hit the town of Monkayo, in a mountainous gold mining region of Davao de Oro province, on Mindanao island in the southern Philippines, Jan. 18, 2024.
[Handout/Municipality of Monkayo/AFP]

Rescuers were searching on Friday through mud and debris for missing people after a landslide caused by days of heavy rain killed at least 10 in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Torrential rain eroded the slopes of Mt. Diwata in the town of Monkayo, a gold-mining region in the southern Davao de Oro province, uprooting rocks and other objects that buried parts of the region on Thursday, the Manila-based Office of Civil Defense said.

Those who died were said to be part of a religious group that was holding a prayer meeting when the disaster struck, Monkayo Mayor Manuel Zamora said.

“There’s still heavy rain but our retrieval operation continues for missing persons,” he said.

“We declared last night a forced evacuation due to intense rains. Our police and military helped get the people out from the site to the emergency shelters.”

He said four people were listed as missing, although residents said more than a dozen others could have also been buried under the debris.

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Manila officially listed the number of deaths at 10, with one missing and one injured.

Monkayo’s mayor said that large parts of town had been declared off limits due to unregulated tunneling activities related to gold mining, but authorities had been struggling to control prospectors.

Julius Neñaria, the husband of one of the victims, Marjomie, 33, recalled talking to his wife, who was going to the prayer meeting, before the tragedy struck.

“She told me that she would leave early …. She even scolded her relatives who wanted to go with her even [though] it was raining, Neñaria said.

“This was just half an hour before their worship. It was totally unexpected.”

Six of Marjorie’s relatives, including a one-year-old boy, perished in the landslide.

The ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance reported that flooding had occurred since Jan. 16 in several parts of Davao de Oro due to unceasing rains.

In September 2018, more than 70 people in the northern mining town of Itogon in the northern Philippines died in a mudslide caused by Typhoon Mangkhu.

The worst landslide in the Philippines occurred on Feb. 17, 2006, following a 10-day downpour in the province of Southern Leyte.

It buried the entire community of Guinsaugon village there, killing more than 1,000 people.

Froilan Gallardo and Richel V. Umel in Cagayan de Oro city, southern Philippines, contributed to this report.


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