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Monday, February 26, 2024

Landslide toll now at 37 as rains stall rescue efforts

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Rains stalled rescue and retrieval efforts on Sunday as 67 remain missing in the landslide that hit Barangay Masara in Maco town, Davao de Oro.

The Maco municipal disaster risk reduction and management office confirmed the recovery of a total of 37 bodies as of noon on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported Sunday that damage resulting from flooding and landslides in Mindanao have left a total of P738.6 million worth of damage to infrastructure.

In a radio interview, Edward Macapili, Davao de Oro executive assistant for communications and public relations, said scattered rains in the area early Sunday forced rescuers to evacuate to safer grounds.

“Today, the sky was dark and it was raining last night until early this morning. In spite of that, our operation continues,” Macapili said.

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Rescuers also had to stop the operation for two hours on Saturday after detecting a movement or scarring of the soil at the landslide area.

“The number of cadavers being recovered is increasing,” he noted.

Macapili said most of the retrieved bodies were found in sections of the slide, which were eight to 10 meters thick.

Other miners and responders from different provinces have volunteered to hasten the search and retrieval operations.

Macapili said volunteer miners from Agusan del Sur have recovered two bodies.

Meanwhile, the governor of Davao de Oro has committed to implement the no-build zone policy in hazardous areas identified by Project NOAH, Macapili said.

He said the local government has the obligation of implementing the no-build zone policy, considering that the entire province is considered a mining area.

“The governor really expressed that they are going to implement the no-build zone because it is imposed by MGB (Mines and Geosciences Bureau),” Macapili said.

Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) is the integrated disaster prevention and mitigation program of the Department of Science and Technology.

It has identified areas that are prone to landslides throughout the country.

Macapili earlier revealed that the landslide site has been declared a no-build zone.

He said the residents were previously relocated in a resettlement site of the mining company in Barangay Kinuban, but some of them returned to the area out of “convenience.”

“Apex Mining is not negligent because it implemented all the measures required by the MGB. Actually, the landslide area is also part of Apex Mining’s mining site. The entire Barangay Masara is actually a mining site of Apex Mining,” said Macapili.

Based on NDRRMC’s latest situational bulletin, the Caraga region sustained P473 million worth of damage while Davao region came next with P265.6 million.

A total of 1,344 houses were also damaged in the Northern Mindanao, Davao Region and Caraga from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3 because of the rains brought about by the northeast monsoon and the trough of a now-dissipated low pressure area.

Of these houses, 786 were partially damaged, while 558 were totally damaged.

Ninety-six roads and 16 bridges in these three regions also remained impassable as of Sunday, NDRRMC said.

Floods and landslides have also affected 1,389,073 individuals or 415,494 families in 818 barangays in Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, Soccsksargen, Caraga, and Bangsamoro Region.

Nearly 50,000 people remained in evacuation centers, while more than 300,000 sought temporary shelter elsewhere.

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