Signs of life detected from the 2nd floor of collapsed Davao condo tower

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 31 Oct) – Responders detected “signs of life” during a search and rescue operation from the unexplored unit on the second floor of the five-story Ecoland 4000 Residences along Eco West Drive here that partially collapsed on Thursday morning following a magnitude 6.5 earthquake that struck parts of Mindanao, Mayor Sara Duterte said.

Workers check on the damage at the Himeji Building of Ecoland 4000 Residences, whose parking lot and first floor collapsed. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

In an interview with reporters, Duterte said the rescue dog of the Philippine Coast Guard detected a tapping sound from among the debris on the second floor around 3:30 p.m. or six hours after the first two levels of the condominium collapsed.

This was later confirmed by a life detector machine of a disaster volunteer group, Knight Hawk, employed after the collapse of the 56-unit condominium, the first of its two towers, owned by property developer DMC Urban Property Developers Inc. (DMC-UPDI), according to Duterte.

She said rescuers have yet to ascertain if the “signs of life” came from a human since the owner of the unexplored unit owned a pet dog. “They heard a tapping sound twice. They cannot determine if it was human or animal—dog—because that unit had a dog,” she said.

No one was reported missing after the incident, the mayor said.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte gives updates on the damage and ongoing search and rescue efforts for the damaged Ecoland 4000 Residences building. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Duterte said responders are just waiting for the equipment with a built-in camera that can crawl up to the unit to verify presence of a trapped survivor.

The second option being considered by the rescue team is more risky, which is attempting to enter the building through a tight crawl space, she said.

She said the local government had already issued a notice of condemnation to the building administrator of the Ecoland 4000 Residences’ Himeji Building as the building was already unsafe for habitation after sustaining major cracks during the magnitude 6.4 earthquake last Wednesday.

According to Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), the quake was felt as Intensity VI in Davao City. It was at Intensity VII in areas close to the epicenter (pegged at the location 06.92°N, 125.06°E by the PHIVOLCS, or somewhere in Makilala, North Cotabato)—Makilala and Tulunan, North Cotabato; Kidapawan City; Matanao, Bansalan, Magsaysay and Santa Cruz in Davao Del Sur; and Digos City.

The police cordoning off the site had also met the ire of impatient unit owners at the Nagoya tower, located just across the collapsed building, after they were prevented from entering the premises since they could not ascertain their safety.

The Himeji Building of Ecoland 4000 Residences. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Christine Perez, one of the occupants of the Nagoya Tower, berated the police officers, telling them that she needed to recover her expensive Hermes bag and pieces of jewelry since her two children and three other adult companions left their unit door unlocked in panic.

She asked them to let her in since the tower where she resided appeared to be stable.

Perez and other unit owners were later allowed to enter one after another. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)