THE odds or chances of survival in the Masara landslide had not been determined yet based on the findings and on-the-ground investigation of the emergency personnel and rescuers on ground zero, or the area where the calamity struck.
This, despite the optimism of search and rescue teams to retrieve more alive individuals following the miraculous rescue of a three-year-old girl who was discovered by a Coast Guard K-9 and humanitarian working dog named Appa on the morning of Friday, February 8, 2024.
“(As) To the chances of life or percentage of life, we cannot really determine as of the moment since nga ibat-iba yung mga location nitong mga tao (the location of the victims vary). There might be possibilities na meron pa ring buhay doon and may ibang location din sa lugar doon na (that there are those who are still alive and there are locations in the place that) might have been in an area where they do not have this pocket space that allows them to breathe underneath. It is difficult to say the chances, as of the moment,” Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) of Davao de Or officer Joseph Randy Loy said during the Budyong Online on Saturday, February 10, 2024.
However, the officer assured that the Incident Command Post (ICP) and all rescuers who are at the frontline of the search and rescue operation have been continuously working on locating all missing individuals with hopes of finding more survivors.
“Every now and then the teams are also capturing the [bodies] in the ground-zero so it is really taking time to account for all action being undertaken,” Loy added.
Following the activation of Task Group Masara involving all military units in the jurisdiction of Cotabato up to Zamboanga on February 7, the Philippine Army (PA) central headquarters based in Quezon City has sent its 505th Engineering Construction Battalion to the area for swift action.
The battalion augmented equipment for the search and rescue team such as thermal scanners that could detect individuals as much as 30 feet underneath the rubble and snake eye cameras to monitor qualitative inspections even in narrow spaces.
“We are hopeful na makatabang ni siyag dako sa ground zero para hopefully makakita pa tag mga buhi sa [nahitabong] landslide” (We are hopeful that this would greatly help at the ground zero and hopefully we could search more landslide victims alive), 1001st Infantry “Pag-asa” Brigade commander, Colonel Felix Ronnie Babac said at the press event.
Currently, a total of 170 soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), mostly from the 25th Infantry Division (25th ID) and 10th Infantry Division (10th ID) were deployed in the area.
As of press time, the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO) of Maco through their situation report recorded 37 deaths, 63 missing, and 32 individuals injured.
The Masara landslide happened on Tuesday night, February 6 at Zone 1, Barangay Masara, Maco, Davao de Oro.
Among those identified victims were employees of the Apex Mining Co., Inc., who waited for their buses at a bus terminal station near the mining company. DEF