VALENCIA CITY (MindaNews/05 July) – Two children were killed in a landslide in Barangay Tongantongan here Monday, reports reaching local officials today said.
Dead in the Tongantongan landslide were 5-year-old Joy Cullaman and 6-year-old Roque Santillan.
The landslide in Tongantongan, which is some 30 kilometers from the city proper, was only reported around 9pm Monday.
The incident brought to seven the number of victims of landslides in Valencia with the recovery of five bodies from sitio Hangaron in barangay Lumbayao where soil apparently loosened by heavy rains since Sunday poured from one side of the highway on Monday and buried some 20 commuters.
Four of the five victims in Hangaron were Sheryl Arnosa-Sadsad of Musuan, Maramag; her husband Reynante Sadsad; Marites Lagunay; and her mother, Segundina Lagunay, of Medina, Misamis Oriental.
Authorities had clarified that the earlier report of six casualties in Hangaron was a result of confusion in the body count as Sheryl’s body was cut into halves.
Bukidnon Gov. Alex Calingasan said that chances of finding survivors in Hangaron had dimmed as more than 24 hours had passed from the time of the incident.
As of 4:30pm Tuesday, Calingasan said what’s being done was now just a retrieval operation for about 20 persons who were buried in the landslide and feared dead.
“Recovery efforts are still ongoing even though, considering that they were all buried in loose earth, the possibility of finding survivors has become remote with the lapse of time,” he said.
By late afternoon Tuesday, the operation was suspended after the workers failed to find more bodies even if most of the soil that covered a portion of the highway had been cleared. They said the bodies could have been swept into the ravine on the other side of the road.
Lt. Col. Jose Maria Cuerpo, commander of the 8th Infantry Battalion said that rescue workers from the Army and local government units were working under precarious situation due to the instability of the earth in the area.
He said they will continue their operations until the highway is cleared.
Search and rescue operations were halted around 5pm Monday as heavy rains poured in the area, and resumed around 9am Tuesday after engineers said the threat of new landslides had diminished.
Soldiers employed trained rescue dogs in locating possible survivors as well as those who were feared to have died in the landslide.
Monday’s landslide, which happened around 8am, struck a row of habal-habal (passenger motorcycles) that had parked in the area cut off by another landslide that happened on Sunday night. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)