1 dead, 40 missing, 11 rescued in Pantukan landslide

Aerial view of the landslide site in Side B, Sitio Panganason, Barangay Kingking, Pantukan town in Compostela Valley province. As of 3 p.m., a 15-year old boy was killed, 11 have been rescued while 40 others remain missing. Photo taken from the Philippine Air Force’s 505th Search and Rescue Squadron helicopter, courtesy of the Philippine Army’s 71st Infantry Battalion.PANTUKAN, Compostela Valley (MindaNews/22 April) –  A 15-year old boy  was killed, 40 others are still missing while 11 have been rescued in a landslide that struck a small-scale mining area in Barangay Kingking at around 2:30 Friday morning.

Data from the Incident Command Post fronting the town hall here showed that initial reports on the landslide reached the Municipal Disaster Risk Reducation and Management Council (MDRRMC)  at around 8 a.m.

The report said the landslide, triggered partly by continuous downpour Thursday, struck Side B of the small-scale mining area of Sitio Panganason, Barangay Kingking and that 20 persons were missing while four were rescued.

At  9 a.m., a bulldozer of the Russell Mines, located two kilometers away,  proceeded to the area while a helicopter from the Philippine Air Force’s 505th Search and Rescue squadron in Davao City flew to the landslide site to monitor the extent of the slide and  to look for a landing zone,  2Lt. Ari Ben Hernaez, acting CMO (Civilian Military Operations) officer of the 71st IB, said.

Hernaez said the landslide site, estimated to a have affected about a hectare, is located some 13 aerial kilometers away from the town hall here and is accessible on a three-hour ride using habal-habal (motorcycle). He said  information from the landslide site reached Pantukan quite late because of fluctuating mobile phone signal.

Ma. Alfelor Joy Detros, assistant Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer, identified the slain victim as Jun Rex Torejos, 15, of  Coambugan, Tagum City.

Hernaez said six of the injured reached the Pantukan District Hospital, two of them in critical condition, arrived at the Patukan District Hospital at around 10:30 a.m.

At 12 noon,  five persons trapped in one of the tunnels there were rescued but their names were not immediately made available, he said.

At 1 p.m. two helicopters  from the Tactical Operations Group in Davao City were deployed to the landslide site.

The six others who were injured were identified as Lambert Detros, 47 and Zeffrey Tundag, 15 of Barangay Matiao, Pantukan;  Rico Clase, 29 of Caraga; Jerry Costal, 21 of Lasang, Davao City;  Ervin Galorio, 20, of Samal; andMIke Saret, 30, of Asuncion, Davao del Norte.

As of 1:30 p.m., rescuers are still in the landslide site.

The affected sitio has a population of 60 households or about 330 persons. Mayor Celso Sarenas had warned residents there last year to vacate the area but they refused, saying they would rather die working in the minesite than die of hunger.  (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)