Rescue, retrieval operations ongoing after Ompong triggers landslide in Itogon, Benguet

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(Photo courtesy: PRO Cordillera)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 16) — Rescue operations are in full swing after a landslide at a mining community in Itogon, Benguet Saturday.

Around 20 to 30 people are now being rescued after they were reportedly buried in a landslide in Itogon, Benguet.

Engr. Cyril Batcagan from the Itogon Municipal Disaster Office told CNN Philippines, "Nung kasagsagan ng bagyo, kasi sa itaas ng tunnel, may mga naimbak na putik na galing sa side ng kalsada. Nung dumating yung bagyo, naging putik lahat doon sa baba. Tapos nag...gumuho na bundok dito sa itaas, yun siguro ang nagtulak sa putik sa ibaba para tabunan yung chapel at saka yung dalawang building."

[Translation: At the height of the typhoon, mud from the sides of the road pooled at the top of the tunnel. When the storm hit, everything became mud. When the mountain collapsed, it could've been what pushed the mud downward and covered the chapel and the two buildings.

 

Batcagan said they believed all of those who were buried in the landslide were miners, but they were not sure if the miners’ families were with them.

"Yun ang isang problema namin kaya mahihirapan kaming mag-account kung ilan talaga ang natabunan," he added.

[Translation: That is one of the problems were looking at so we're finding it difficult to account how many were buried.]

Six bodies have been retrieved, he said, but they were having trouble digging.

Meanwhile, Northern Luzon Command Chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat also confirmed rescue and retrieval operations are ongoing in Itogon, Benguet.

 

They are looking at 43 people possibly buried in Barangay Ucab, known to be a mining area.

In a separate interview with CNN Philippines Sunday, Salamat said, "As of this afternoon’s report, we only received 43 people who were possibly buried or trapped caused by the landslide in Barangay Ucab, Itogon, Benguet."

More soldiers have been sent to the area to help in the rescue and retrieval operations, he added.

"We will exert all efforts. We might be needing some assistance of the marine...mining bureaus to provide technical assistance," he said.

Salamat said they were assessing whether or not to continue efforts overnight as the ground in the area was still muddy.

They were looking out for the safety of their personnel he said, and wanted to avoid any more accidents.