Landslide hits Davao Oriental-A A +A
Friday, August 31, 2012
MATI CITY (Updated) -- A landslide occurred in a gold-rush area in the boundaries of Mati City and Tarragona in Davao Oriental Thursday evening, but there’s no definite count of casualties as of Friday.
But sources are giving different counts from just one to up to 50 possible casualties.
Herminia Miones, Don Salvador Mandaya tribal chieftain, said the landslide happened at Sitio Bangol where about 7,000 small-scale miners are operating.
She said according to initial reports from the Mandayas in the area, at least two bunkhouses were destroyed by the landslide.
She said the initial number of trapped miners was 20.
Don Salvador village chief Baudelio Miones, meanwhile, confirmed Friday afternoon that seven bodies were unearthed from the buried mine tunnels. Baudelio is the son of Herminia.
He said retrieval operation is ongoing as they believe that more miners were inside the tunnel when the landslide struck.
The elder Miones said that as of Friday morning, the number of reported casualties rose to 50.
She also said that one of the affected bunkhouses is owned by a certain Mancao. She said several known mining personalities are also known to operate in the gold rush site.
A call to the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Friday morning, however, revealed no casualty as OCD is still verifying the report.
The elder Miones said that Thursday's landslide is the second incident that happened in a span of two months. She said that more than a month ago, four small-scale miners died when a mine tunnel caved in.
The gold rush site in Don Salvador Lopez has been controversial lately after the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) issued a cease and desist order against all small-scale mining operation in the area.
This prompted Mati City Mayor Michelle Rabat to form a task force to look into the area. Later, Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon ordered the implementation of the MGB’s cease and desist order.
In a text advisory, however, Major Jacob Thaddeus Obligado, chief of the 10th Civil Military Operations Battalion, belied reports that many were killed in the landslide, although he confirmed such disaster happened.
"Three days of heavy rains in Barangay Tubaon, (Tarragona) Davao Oriental caused landslides in the area that reportedly occurred at 10 p.m. last night (Thursday night) and 5 a.m. this morning (Friday)," he said.
He added that Tarragona Mayor Samuel Uy already sent personnel to check on the damages and casualty.
"Police and military reported three tunnels were affected with minimal damage and no reported casualties," Obligado said.
But one Ramon Abad Renomeron, a resident of San Salvador in Mati City, was reported to have been hit by a falling tree late afternoon on Friday.
"It is believed that reports of massive casualties are attempt to distort information and create issues that only confuse people," Obligado said in the text message, adding that information should be culled only from Tarragona Mayor Uy. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)