Pantukan landslide update: 5 dead, 17 still missing

PANTUKAN,  Compostela Valley (MindaNews/24 April) –   The death toll in Friday’s landslide rose to five as four bodies were retrieved from the landslide site Sunday.

The number of missing has dropped to 17 as all four were among the 21 reported missing.

As of 6 p..m. Sunday, the official count of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) is  five dead, 17 missing and 13 rescued.

The landslide struck the small-scale gold mining site in Side B, Sitio Panganason, Barangay Kingking, shortly before 3 a.m. on Good Friday.

Chances of finding survivors appear bleak as rescue operations entered its third day Sunday.

The MDRRMC’s Incident Command Post identified the victims as Marjun Guilabtan, 18 and Danny Prendo, 26, Marvin Anglai, 19 and Relieto Tabag, 29, all of Buan, Asuncion in neighboring Davao del Norte province.

The bodies of Guilabtan and Prendo were found  late Saturday  “trapped in a deep area hard for rescuers to reach” and finally retrieved by 10 a.m. Sunday.

At 12:40 p.m. the bodies of Marvin Anglai, 19 and Relieto Tabag, 29, were also retrieved.

Fellow mine workers who were able to determine the location of the victims assisted in guiding rescuers since Saturday morning.

The rescuers were concentrating their diggings near the tunnel where the victims worked.

Mayor Celso Sarenas said they are imposing no deadline on the rescue operations, adding he is still hopeful there are still survivors.

Sarenas said that they will exert all means to rescue or retrieve everyone. “We are still hoping for a miracle,” he told reporters.

On Saturday, a backhoe and bulldozer arrived at the landslide site. Earlier, rescue workers dug through mud and debris using spades and shovels.

The retrieved bodies are wrapped in body bags and transported The cadavers, which were wrapped in body bags, were transported down the mountain on  motorcycles-for-hire locally known as “habal-habal.”

It takes some at least an hour to reach the downtown  downtown proper. (Keith Bacongco / MindaNews)