Benguet landslide: Death toll now at 59

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Itogon, Benguet (CNN Philippines, September 25) — More bodies have been recovered in the community hit by a landslide in Itogon, Benguet, bringing the death toll to 59.

The rescue team from Philex Mining Corp. on Monday has also penetrated the portal to the secret mining tunnels where other residents of Barangay Ucab are believed to have hidden.

Authorities have continued their search and rescue operations, holding on to the slim chance that the missing residents could have found their way to the tunnels, waiting to be rescued.

Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Francis Tolentino, President Rodrigo Duterte's pointman on Typhoon Ompong, is expected to arrive in the area to decide whether the authorities should let go of the rescue component and instead focus on the search and retrieval operations in the community.

The landslide crashed on a bunkhouse-turned-church where small-scale miners and their families sought refuge during the onslaught of Ompong 10 days ago.

The Office of Civil Defense on Friday trimmed down the number of rescuers searching for missing residents to 30 from 900 rescuers due to threats of another landslide.

Authorities also forced residents in the barangay to evacuate.

This is a developing story. Please refresh page for updates.