Davao de Oro landslide buries 2 buses; 6 dead

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star
Davao de Oro landslide buries 2 buses; 6 dead
Soldiers belonging to the 60th Infantry Battalion help transport victims of a landslide in Barangay Masara, Maco, Davao de Oro using an air ambulance of the Eastern Mindanao Command. Photo posted on the Facebook page of the 60th IB.

MANILA, Philippines — Two buses were buried in a landslide in Barangay Masara in Maco, Davao de Oro on Tuesday night, leaving six people dead and 46 others missing.

Three others remained in critical condition yesterday.

“Rescue and retrieval operations are ongoing along with other agencies of the government and provincial rescue teams,” the Maco Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) said in a post on Facebook.

The Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) said workers of Apex Mining Inc. were on the bus waiting to be transported to their homes when the landslide occurred in Barangay Masara.

The Eastmincom said 45 of the 86 employees initially reported buried in the landslide have been rescued.

Eighty-six families or around 600 residents of Barangays Mainit, Tagbaros, Elizalde and Panibasan have been evacuated to safer ground.

It has yet to be determined if other mine workers or villagers are among the missing.

The landslide reportedly affected 758 families.

The Davao de Oro provincial government and Maco MDRRMO said the landslide occurred following heavy rainfall in the area the other day.

The military said the affected roads remained impassable.

Teams from the 1001st Infantry Brigade and 10th Infantry Division were deployed in various areas near the scene. Fourteen military vehicles were mobilized to support rescue operations.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said it has received reports on the landslide, which affected nearby villages, but has yet to release an official report.

Twenty-nine Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) members and a rescue-trained canine were deployed at the scene.

PCG-Southeastern Mindanao district public information officer Cmdr. Angel Tobias said only one PCG team, with seven members, was allowed in the staging area.

”We were told that the number of responders is being limited because the soil is still soft,” Tobias said.

In a statement, Apex Mining said one of the four 60-seater buses bringing the employees home had left when the landslide occurred.

Apex Mining said rescue work is hampered by limited visibility and intermittent landslides.

The company said it is on “limited” operations to focus its resources on rescue operations.

The mining firm noted that the landslide was outside its mine operations, but the area where it occurred was used as a terminal for buses and jeepneys servicing the employees, its service providers and members of the community. — John Unson, Jasper Emmanuel Arcalas, Evelyn Macairan, Diana Lhyd Suelto

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