Dozens feared dead after landslide swamps Ompong evacuation centre

Rescue workers at the scene of the landslide today as they battle to reach the trapped victims. Picture courtesy of Cordillera police.

A landslide triggered by typhoon Ompong have left at least 32 people dead and 29 more missing in Itogon, Benguet, the town’s mayor has said.

Mayor Victorio Palangdan said today (Sunday, 16) that rescue workers are continuing in attempts to free more than 40 people trapped in a bunkhouse that was buried in a landslide.

He added that some 300 families are currently staying in government evacuation centres.

“A privately-owned bunkhouse with 40 to 50 people was buried in a landslide. We fear they might be dead,” he said.

Senior Superintendent Lyndon Mencio, provincial police chief, said they had so far recovered four bodies from the landslide site.

“We’re on top of the building that was buried. There seems to be no signs of life. We have already recovered four bodies in the area,” he said.

Local barangay chief Kennedy Waclin said the rains brought by the southwest monsoon had softened the earth even before the onslaught of typhoon Ompong.

“The habagat rains were so heavy that the earth softened, and then the typhoon came. This is why there were landslides,” he explained.

It is believed that the majority of people trapped under the landslide were miners.

“We know for a fact that this area is dangerous because there is a big tunnel mined by Corporation a hundred years ago,” the mayor said.

He added that he blamed mining for the landslides in the town. He also vowed stop mining operations that have caused sinkholes not only to Itogon but also in other cities and towns in Benguet.

“No more mining should be done in this municipality,” he said.

Typhoon Ompong – now under its international name of Mangkhut – is currently lashing China.

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