Philippines landslide strikes miners, homes in gold-mining village

Dozens of people missing after heavy rains brought mountainside cascading over remote village.

In this photo provided by the Philippine Red Cross, volunteers assists residents evacuate to safer grounds following a landslide at their village at Maco, Davao de Oro province
Volunteers help residents evacuate to safer ground following a landslide in Maco, Davao de Oro province, southern Philippines, February 7, 2024 [Philippine Red Cross via AP]

Rescuers are battling to find dozens of people missing after a landslide buried buses and houses in a gold-mining village in the southern Philippines.

The landslide, triggered by heavy rains, brought part of a mountainside cascading over a remote village in Davao de Oro province on Mindanao island on Tuesday night, killing at least five people, with 31 injured and three evacuated by helicopter.

Reporting from Manila, Al Jazeera’s Barnaby Lo said the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command had reported 41 people were still missing. Forty-five people had been rescued, mainly miners who were in two buses.

“The roads remain impassable, and there is no cellphone signal in the area,” the military said on Facebook on Wednesday.

Provincial government spokesman Edward Macapili said it was not clear how many people may have been trapped in their homes when the landslide hit Masara village.

Five bodies were pulled from the mud, Macapili said, but it was unclear if they were on the buses.

He said the two parked buses outside the mine, operated by the Philippine company Apex Mining, were about to carry 28 people home from work, the AFP news agency reported. Eight miners had jumped out of the bus windows or dashed away before the mud engulfed them.

Army troops, police and locals were forced to stop their search late Tuesday because of the darkness and fears of more landslides. The rescue effort resumed on Wednesday morning.

“Rescue work is hampered by limited visibility and intermittent slides,” said Apex Mining in a statement.

Natural disasters

Landslides are frequent hazards across much of the archipelago nation owing to the mountainous terrain, heavy rainfall and widespread deforestation.

About 600 villagers living near the landslide-hit area have been evacuated to safer communities.

In recent weeks, more than a dozen villagers had died as a result of flooding and landslides, according to disaster response officials. Torrential rains had already forced tens of thousands into emergency shelters.

The Philippines is also regularly ravaged by storms, with scientists warning they are becoming more powerful as the world gets warmer because of climate change.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies