Death toll rises to 54 in southern Philippines landslide | Climate News

  • February 11, 2024

Authorities say 63 people remain missing as rescue efforts are hampered by heavy rain, thick mud and the threat of further landslides.

The death toll from a landslide that hit a gold-mining village in the southern Philippines has risen to 54 people and 63 others are missing, authorities have said.

The landslide hit the mountain village of Masara in Davao de Oro province on Tuesday night after weeks of torrential rains.

Davao de Oro’s provincial government said in a Facebook post that 54 bodies had been recovered, raising its previous death toll of 37 earlier in the day as rescue workers found more bodies. At least 32 residents survived with injuries but 63 remained missing, it said.

Among those missing were gold miners who had been waiting in two buses to be driven home when the landslide struck and buried them.

Edward Macapili, an official from Davao de Oro, said more than 300 people were involved in the rescue, but operations were being hampered by heavy rain, thick mud and the threat of further landslides.

Rescue work resumed on Sunday morning, Macapili said. Asked if there were still survivors, he said it was already “unlikely”, but the search would continue.”The rescue team is doing its best, even if it’s very difficult,” he told the Reuters news agency.

Rocks, mud and trees slid more than 700m (2,300 feet) down a steep mountainside near the Apex Mining Co concession, burying an 8.9-hectare (22-acre) section of the Masara community.

A three-year-old girl was pulled alive from under the rubble on Friday, in what rescuers described as a “miracle”.

More than 1,100 families have been moved to evacuation centres for their safety, disaster response officials said.

Rain has pounded parts of the southern region on and off for weeks, triggering dozens of landslides and floods that have forced tens of thousands of people into emergency shelters.

Earthquakes also damaged houses and buildings in the region in recent months, officials said.

Landslides are a frequent hazard across much of the archipelago nation due to the mountainous terrain, heavy rainfall and widespread deforestation from mining, slash-and-burn farming and illegal logging.

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