Hope fades for dozens trapped in landslides

By: Inquirer.net September 18,2018 - 01:03 AM

ITOGON, Benguet – The mayor here said on Monday that it’s unlikely any of the dozens of people thought buried in a huge landslide set off by Typhoon “Ompong (international name: Mangkhut) will be found alive, though rescuers were still digging through the massive mound of mud and debris covering a chapel where they had sheltered.

Mayor Victorio Palangdan of Itogon town in Benguet province, among the worst-hit by the typhoon that struck Saturday, said at a news conference that of the 40 to 50 people thought buried, there’s a “99 percent (chance) that they really are all dead.”

Ompong has killed 65 people since it tore through the Philippines. The storm killed another four people in China, where Ompong weakened to a tropical storm as it churned inland Monday.

Palangdan said rescuers have dug out 11 bodies from a the slide, which is covering a former miners’ bunkhouse that had been turned into a chapel. Dozens of residents sought shelter there during the storm despite warnings it was dangerous.

“They laughed at our policemen. They insisted,” he said. “They were resisting when our police tried to pull them away. What can we do?”

Hundreds of rescuers, including police and soldiers, scrambled to search for the missing as grief-stricken relatives waited nearby, many of them quietly praying.
“We will not stop until we recover all the bodies,” Palangdan said.

Most of those buried in the slide are thought to be poor miners and their families.

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