Thursday, June 20, 2019

11 landslide victims yet to be identified

WATER SAMPLING. For the safety of the evacuees, personnel of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District examine the potability of water in the landslide area in Barangay Tina-an, City of Naga. (SunStar photo / Arni Aclao)

A TOTAL of 28 bodies and 21 body parts retrieved from the landslide site in the City of Naga were brought to a funeral parlor in Cebu City for disaster victim identification (DVI) by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7.

Of the 28 bodies, 11 remains unidentified as of yesterday while 17 have already been released to their families over the past two days.

The NBI has been conducting DVI since last week.

Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak asked the relatives of the victims who died from the landslide to help NBI 7 fast-track the identification of the bodies.

“We need the help of the relatives by bringing medical records, dental records or identify the tattoos or birthmarks of their loved ones. Once the bodies are identified, these will be brought back immediately to Naga,” he said.

The NBI 7 chose Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes on Junquera St., Cebu City, as the area where the DVI will be conducted.

The Cebu City Government has been providing food and transportation to the families who will visit Cosmopolitan to identify the bodies.

In a related development, 50 psychologists from the University of San Jose-Recoletos and University of San Carlos will be in Naga today.

They will conduct psychological first aid and stress debriefing to the survivors.

Meanwhile, the search and retrieval operations for the remaining victims of the landslide in Barangay Tina-an will end this weekend.

“But if they (search team) cannot complete retrieving every body by weekend, then they will have to extend their operations,” said City of Naga Mayor Kristine Vanessa Chiong.

Baltazar Tribunalo, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head and incident commander, said they might conclude their retrieval operations even if they can’t recover all remaining victims.

As of 5 p.m. yesterday, the death toll have already reached 67 while 18 remain missing.

Since the retrieval team has recovered some body parts from the site, Tribunalo said these might be enough to help identify the remaining victims.

Relatives of those who are still missing hope, though, that their kin are still alive. But if they are already dead, they want their bodies recovered so they can give them proper burial.

Rose Yapac, whose uncle Alfie remains missing, hopes that his body will be retrieved.

Alfie was reportedly sleeping in his house in Sitio Tagaytay 2 when the landslide split his hut.

Her uncle’s body was reportedly stuck in a dislodged cliff.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office mandates that search and retrieval operations commence simultaneously with search and rescue operations and will only end as recommended by the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. (JKV/RVC)


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