Philex rescue team members at Ground Zero of the Itogon landslide.
(ITOGON, BENGUET) – The work was nevertheless faster, but the results were nonetheless grimmer.
Rescue team members from Philex Mining Corporation recovered seven (7) more bodies as of press time today from beneath the mud and debris of the recent landslide in Barangay Ucab, Itogon town, Province of Benguet.
This brings to 42 the total number of bodies recovered so far from the landslide that resulted from Typhoon “Ompong” (international name: Mangkhut) which wreaked havoc on Northern Luzon a week ago.
“The search-and-recovery operations were indeed faster, now that a pioneer road had been connected to Ground Zero for easier access to rescuers and equipment,” according to Philex President and CEO Eulalio Austin, Jr.
“Still, this did not detract from the grim nature of the work that our rescue team had to do,” Austin said.
The day before, an excavator deployed by Philex from its mine camp in Tuba, Benguet, was able to reach Ground Zero after carving out a roadway from the Itogon Provincial Highway.
The pioneer access road was constructed at the behest of Philex to expedite search-and-rescue and search-and-recovery operations, so that other equipment can be brought in to assist in digging at the landslide area.
It is believed that a majority of the victims were small-scale miners and their families who lived and mined on the hillside that gave way under a week’s worth of torrential rains and winds that were dumped in a matter of hours.
In spite of the warnings given earlier by government agencies concerned on the devastating impact of the coming storm, villagers in the area still remained in their dwellings precariously situated on a hillside.
So far, 26 residents have remained missing.
DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has ordered a suspension to small-scale mining activities in the Cordilleras, immediately after the landslide. He has likewise ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to enforce this suspension. 30