Landslide toll climbs to 55; aid pours in for Mindanao

Landslide toll climbs to 55; aid pours in for Mindanao

By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter

THE DEATH toll from a landslide that struck the mining town of Maco, Davao de Oro province a week ago has climbed to 55, authorities said on Monday as aid poured in for areas of Mindanao plagued by disasters wrought by heavy rains in the past weeks.

In a situation report, the Davao de Oro province’s disaster agency said 32 people were still missing as of 7 a.m. on Monday after a landslide in the village of Masara last week.

The tally of missing individuals was still ongoing. On Sunday, 63 people were considered missing.

The landslide happened in the gold-mine village at around 7:40 p.m. on Feb. 6, amid heavy rains due to the combined effects of a northeast monsoon and the trough of a low-pressure area.

Apex Mining Co, Inc. earlier said the area where the landslide occurred was a vehicle terminal for buses and jeepneys servicing its employees as well as members of the community.

Masara, which had a population of 1,125 as of May 2020, was also the site of two landslides in September 2008 that killed 24 people and left two missing.

Operations of 300 rescuers from different disaster teams had been facing interruptions as they searched the area, Edward Macapili, an executive assistant on information and communications at the provincial government, said in a radio interview.

The Philippine disaster agency on Sunday said infrastructure damage from the rain-induced flooding and landslides in Mindanao had hit P738.6 million, P473 million of which was in Caraga region.

Two United States Air Force C-130 cargo planes were being used for the transport of family food packages to Davao region, the military said on Monday.

The US is providing P70 million ($1.25 million) in humanitarian aid for communities in Mindanao affected by recent flooding and landslides.

In a statement, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) said the US Department of Defense will also provide two C-130 aircraft to help the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Office of Civil Defense to deliver 15,000 social welfare food packs to affected families.

USAID has also partnered with the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development and the International Organization for Migration to provide emergency shelters for more than 5,000 people.

The agency is also working with the World Food Programme to transport DSWD food packs to 65,000 families. It said the recent floods and landslides had displaced and impacted nearly 1.2 million people.

Last Sunday, Social Welfare Secretary Rex T. Gatchalian led a relief mission in Barangay Masara, providing food and water purification packets from Procter and Gamble and World Vision.

The ethnic Blaan community and a private company, Sagittarius Mines, Inc., also provided P300,000 worth of relief assistance to families affected by the landslide in Barangay Masara.

The aid came in the form of rice, noodles, canned goods, and water, and was delivered by company representatives and Blaan chieftain Domingo N. Collado.

Blaan leaders and the firm are also preparing for the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project in Polomolok town in South Cotabato, 500 kilometers away from Maco. — With reports from John Victor D. Ordoñez and John Felix M. Unson