Naga landslide retrieval to end tomorrow
Jean Marvette A. Demecillo, May Miasco (The Freeman) - October 5, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Two weeks have passed since a massive landslide hit Barangay Tina-an, City of Naga on September 20, but retrieval and excavation operations still continue.


The incident management team, headed by Naga City Mayor Kristine Chiong, decided to extend the operation upon request of the affected families.

She said retrieval operations may still continue as four persons are still unaccounted for.

Initially, members of the incident management team set yesterday to meet and agree whether to end the retrieval operation.

Chiong said the city committed to the families that operations will remain until the eroded ground is excavated completely, with or without retrieved bodies.

The team targets to complete the task of retrieving all bodies and excavating the area tomorrow.

At least 45 personnel of Bureau of Fire and Protection from regions VI, VIII, and X have returned to their respective hometowns after assisting in the search, rescue, and retrieval operations for 13 days.

In the course of their operation, Chief of Special Rescue Unit of BFP-10 and Fire Inspector Sam Laurence Velarde said his 15-member team was able to retrieve at least five bodies from the rubble.

Velarde, who hails from Cagayan de Oro City, said it was not the first time that the group participated in the search and retrieval operations.

They have assisted in the previous disasters such as typhoons Yolanda and Sendong, among others.

“Ang kalisdanan lang gyud is ang area kay unstable man ang yuta. Anytime naay movement gamay, naay tendency matabunan ang rescuer sa area,” he told reporters.

“Ang among fulfillment man gud is makita namo ang relatives nga at ease sila nga makita ang mga sakop nga nawala,” he added.

BFP-Region VI Fire Inspector Arden Bedoña said extracting bodies from the rubble is a fulfillment of their mission as they see families and relatives waiting for the bodies to be retrieved, dead or alive.

He said it was his first time to participate in the rescue operations for a landslide incident, adding that the most challenging part was the retrieval operation.

Bedoña added that he will propose to subject the fire fighters in his region to more trainings on the search and retrieval operations.

“In line sa service namin, beyond borders and anytime, anywhere, nandyan kami para tumulong,” he said.

BFP-7 Director Samuel Tadeo said the 45 personnel are part of the 250 officers from four regions, including the region VII.

Tadeo expressed his gratitude for the augmentation from other regions, adding that the augmentation from the bureau only showed that their personnel are not only trained for fire accidents but also to respond to other calamities and disasters.

“Every region, may 15 officers yan. Sila talaga yung highly trained, kumbaga elite unit natin sa BFP. Sila po yung nagre-rescue sa kahit anong disasters,” he said.

Tadeo said over 200 personnel from different provinces of Region VII will stay and continue to assist in the retrieval operations.

As of 4 p.m. last October 3, authorities recorded at least 77 fatalities, 18 injured, and six missing.

Chiong said as part of the healing process, a holy Mass is set on Saturday at 7 a.m. in Sitio Sindulan, the landslide area.

She said all the affected families, including the bereaved ones, were invited to attend the Mass, with the responders and other groups who gave their support during the operation.

Several local government units, through their disaster units, sent some personnel and shared their assets providing technical and logistics support.

The concerned government agencies also converged in assisting the city to run a systematic and collaborative response with the help of private groups and volunteer organizations from different localities and entities. — MBG (FREEMAN)

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