Landslide hits gold-rush area in Davao Oriental; 7 dead-A A +A
Friday, August 31, 2012
MATI CITY -- A landslide occurred in a gold-rush area in the boundaries of Mati City and Tarragona in Davao Oriental Thursday evening, trapping at least 20 people inside the tunnels.
Herminia Miones, Don Salvador Mandaya tribal chieftain, said the landslide happened in Sitio Bangol where about 7,000 small-scale miners are operating.
She said that according to initial reports from the Mandayas in the area, at least two bunkhouses were destroyed by the landslide.
Miones said initial number of trapped miners was reported to be 20.
A military report confirmed the landslide, but the Armed Forces said it is still verifying the number of casualties.
The report identified the two tunnels directly affected by the landslide as owned by a barangay captain of Calapagan in Lupon, Davao Oriental and a certain "Amor."
The military report also confirmed that there are fatalities in the said landslide but could not confirm the exact figure as of Friday afternoon.
Don Salvador barangay captain Baudelio Miones, meanwhile, confirmed Friday afternoon that seven bodies were already unearthed from the mine tunnels.
He said their retrieval operation is ongoing as they believe that more miners were inside the tunnel when the landslide struck.
Miones said that as of Friday morning, the number of reported casualties rose to 50. Another unconfirmed report from the Mati City Health Office placed the number of casualties at 60.
Miones said that one of the affected bunkhouses is owned by a certain Mancao. He added that several known mining personalities are also operating in the gold rush site.
The Office of Civil Defense, for its part, is still verifying report and has not yet confirmed it so far.
Miones said that Thursday's landslide is the second incident in the province since June of this year.
He 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 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. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)