A MILITIAMAN was suffocated to death while his companion escaped unscathed when a tunnel at a mining site in Zamboanga del Norte collapsed, said police.

Inspector Dahlan Samuddin, Police Regional Office-Zamboanga Peninsula information officer, identified the fatality as Mariboy Banogon, 29, a militiaman detailed at Special Force Second Platoon Patrol based in the village of Tinaplan, Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte.

Samuddin said Banogon’s companion, Elmie Sibe, 51, escaped unscathed as he was outside when the tunnel collapsed around 10 a.m. Monday at a mining site in the village of Tinaplan.

Banogon and Sibe went early Monday to the mining site owned by Juan Pagente, a small-scale miner from Zamboanga Sibugay province. The two then noticed that soil and rocks have eroded while they were mining, prompting Banogon to instruct Sibe to get woods outside the tunnel to be used as braces to prevent further erosions. But the tunnel suddenly collapsed just as Sibe stepped out, leaving Banogon trapped inside.

Samuddin said rescuers retrieved Banogon's remains several hours later and post mortem examination showed the latter died due to asphyxia or suffocation. (Bong Garcia)