Philippines: At least 29 dead in Cebu landslide

Quarrying operations suspended in parts of Philippines after a new landslide kills dozens in Mangkhut's wake.

    Police said more than 1,200 people had been evacuated, most of them forcibly, from the area [EPA]
    Police said more than 1,200 people had been evacuated, most of them forcibly, from the area [EPA]

    The Philippines has suspended all mining operations in seven regions of the country after a new landslide killed at least 29 people near a limestone quarry on Cebu island. 

    Rescue operations resumed on Friday after a hillside collapsed and surged down on about 24 houses in two rural villages in Naga city on Thursday.

    DPA news agency quoted an official from the provincial disaster risk reduction office as saying as many as 67 people were still believed buried by the debris.

    Police said more than 1,200 people had been evacuated, most of them forcibly, from the area on Thursday night, according to The Associated Press. 

    Relatives of those buried pleaded for more backhoes to be brought in as many rescue workers were using shovels to dig.

    "They are still under the rubble, they are still there. They are covered in shallow earth, we need a backhoe," resident Nimrod Parba, who had 13 relatives entombed by the landslide, was quoted as saying.

    Many workers were using shovels to dig on the second day of the rescue operation [Bullit Marquez/The Associated Press]

    A spokesman for the Naga city government said many of the rescuers were digging manually because it is dangerous to use heavy equipment. 

    Worst storm of the year

    The landslide happened just days after Typhoon Mangkhut wreaked havoc in the Philippines, leaving at least 95 people dead nationwide. 

    Many of the deaths occurred in Itogon, in northern Benguet province, where the world's strongest storm of the year set off a major landslide that hit a bunkhouse where people were taking shelter from the typhoon. 

    While Mangkhut, locally called Ompong, did not directly hit the central Philippines island, it intensified monsoon rains that could have played a role in destabilising the mountainside in Naga city.

    Philippines Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Friday announced the 15-day suspension of quarrying operations in parts of the country pending safety assessments. 

    "It could also happen in other quarries all over the country," Cimatu told a media briefing in Naga city. 

    "I ordered the review and assessment of all quarry operations all over the country to determine the safety of the quarry operations."

    President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he wanted to put an end to all mining activity in the country.

    "If I were to do my thing, I will close all mining in the Philippines," he said. 

    The Philippines is one of the world's most disaster-prone countries.

    It is lashed by about 20 tropical storms each year and has active seismic faults where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. Poverty forces many people to live in vulnerable areas, making natural disasters more deadly.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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