17 bodies of Masara landslide victims remain unidentified

Bodies of unidentified victims of Masara landslide will temporarily be buried until their kin recognize and claim them
DAVAO DE ORO. Rescuers carry a body from the landslide-hit village of Masara in Maco, Davao de Oro province, southern Philippines on Thursday, February 8, 2024.
DAVAO DE ORO. Rescuers carry a body from the landslide-hit village of Masara in Maco, Davao de Oro province, southern Philippines on Thursday, February 8, 2024.AP

THE death toll in the massive landslide incident in Masara has risen to 71, an official from the Management of the Dead and Missing (MDM) said. 

Lea Añora of MDM said during the media briefing on Tuesday, February 13, 2024, at the Incident Command Post (ICP) that as of 8 a.m. of the same day, they have 71 bodies and body parts retrieved from ground zero.

She clarified that of the 71 retrieved bodies, 67 were complete bodies and four were body parts.  

“Ang unidentified bodies natin there’s a total of 17 which yung 17 natin they are situated sa tatlong identified na mga funeral homes (There is a total of 17 unidentified bodies and they are situated in the three identified funeral homes),” she said.

The total number of missing individuals is 47 but she is hopeful that this evening after they finish their report with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) these numbers will further decrease.   

Añora expressed that it's been seven days since the incident and the bodies are already in the state of decomposition. Thus, one of the ways to identify the bodies is through their family or kin’s recognition. 

She said family members can identify the salient features of their loved ones, like a tattoo or even an accessory. 

For workers of Apex Mining Company Incorporated (AMCI), their boots and gear help in identifying them.

She added they are counter-checking the bodies in their missing list because they are performing antemortem data collection.  

“Dun sa antemortem data collection natin ini-interview natin yung very closest kin or family members nung victim so from that on malalaman natin kung ano yung identity ng unidentified victim natin (In the antemortem data collection we will interview the very closest kin or family members of the victim so from that on we can determine the identity of the unidentified victim),” she said.

Also, on February 13, 2024, the MDM with the recommendation of the Maco Municipal Health Office (MHO), will start the temporary burial process because the state of the bodies has already raised health concerns among the community. The burial spot would have markings with a case number with their own set of indications, this is for easy exhumation when the body is identified. 

“We have to conduct a temporary burial process tomorrow so we have two sites for the lot in Elizalde here and in Mawab,” she said.

The bodies are inside cadaver bags, they are treated but not embalmed because the MDM is considering the religious orientation of the person and the family.  

On a Facebook post of the Municipality of Maco on the same day, it stated that families who have members who are possibly victims of the landslide are encouraged to visit the funeral homes until 8 p.m. of February 13, so they can check the 17 unidentified retrieved bodies. 

They could visit St. Peter Funeral Homes Montevista for the AMCI employees and the Cofreros Rosario Funeral Homes in Mawab. RGP

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