Sibulan tunnel collapse: Rescue operations on for three men trapped underground

By: Delta Dyrecka C. Letigio January 03,2019 - 01:26 AM

Rescuers cordon the area where three men got trapped under 27 feet of soil in Sibulan, Neg Oriental. CDNPHOTO/GEROME JABONI

SIBULAN, NEGROS ORIENTAL –Rescuers worked well into the night on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 as they raced against time to locate and save three men, who were buried under 27 feet of soil in a suspected illegal mining site in Purok Kwatro, Barangay Boloc-boloc in Sibulan town, Negros Oriental.

Police Inspector Mariela Mira, Sibulan Police Station officer-in-charge, told Cebu Daily News Digital in a phone interview that three men, identified as Bobby Baldado, 32; Algie Javier, 28; and Boy Insilay, 61; were trapped under the ground after the rain softened the soil and caused the tunnel, where the victims were working, to collapse at around 10 a.m. of Wednesday, January 2.

A fourth member of the four-man team, Mauro Alfonque, 44, survived the tunnel collapse as he was buried only up to his chest.

Mira said that the four men had dug a hole in the area since November to allegedly mine for gold. She also said that the team allegedly had no permits to mine the private property.

She said the tunnel was underneath a highway where large trucks and vehicles would often pass by. She cited the pressure of the trucks and vehicles passing by the area as a possible factor that had led to the loosening of the soil in the tunnel.

Aside from that, the private property where the tunnel was located was along the road leading to the Sibulan Airport, where container trucks would often pass by. The tunnel was small and hidden inside the private lot that made it difficult for authorities to notice.

The owner of the property had yet to be identified.

With three men being trapped underground in the last 12 hours, Mira said, that there was a possibility that they could be dead.

“The soil is muddy and there is water even until now. We don’t know if they are still alive underground,” said Mira.

Despite this, rescue workers continued to hope and their operations to save the trapped miners. The Sibulan Police, Negros Oriental Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), the Sibulan Municipal and the Negros Oriental Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management teams were deployed for the rescue operations.

The Dumaguete Water District and a private company have also provided pumps to help ease the water out of the tunnel.

Mira said that the local government of Sibulan also reminded rescuers to always put their safety first in the rescue operations.

“The tunnel can fit only one person at time. We cannot risk the lives of the rescuers,” said Mira.

As of 10 p.m of Wednesday the rescue operations for the trapped miners were still ongoing./dbs

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TAGS: illegal mining, mining, rescue, Rescuers, Sibulan tunnel collapse, trapped

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