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'Miracle' rescue nearly 60 hours after Philippine landslide

'Miracle' rescue nearly 60 hours after Philippine landslide

Saturday, February 10, 2024, 13:16 GMT+7
'Miracle' rescue nearly 60 hours after Philippine landslide
Philippine rescuers have been desperately searching for more survivors the landslide that killed 15 people. Photo: AFP

The rescue of a child on Friday nearly 60 hours after a landslide hit a gold-mining village in the southern Philippines has been hailed as a "miracle" after searchers had given up hope of finding more survivors.

The girl, who the Philippine Red Cross said was three years old, had been among scores of people missing after the rain-induced landslide hit the village.

Officials said later on Friday the death toll had almost doubled to 27.

The girl was earlier found as rescuers used their bare hands and shovels to look for survivors in Masara village on southern Mindanao island, disaster agency official Edward Macapili of Davao de Oro province told AFP.

"It's a miracle," Macapili said, adding that searchers had believed those missing were probably dead.

"That gives hope to the rescuers. A child's resilience is usually less than that of adults, yet the child survived."

Video of a rescuer carrying the crying, mud-caked child in his arms was shared on Facebook.

"We can see in the social media posts that the child did not have any visible injuries," Macapili said.

He said the girl's father saw his child before she was taken to a medical facility for a check-up.

The Philippine Red Cross posted photos on Facebook of their workers carrying the girl, wrapped in an emergency blanket and hooked up to an oxygen tank, into a hospital in nearby Mawab municipality.

The landslide struck Tuesday night, destroying houses and engulfing three buses and a jeepney waiting to pick up workers from a gold mine.

While the death toll increased to 27 from 15, the number of missing fell to 89 from more than 100, official figures showed, as searchers retrieved more bodies.

The number of injured also rose to 32.

Bare hands

Rescuers were racing to find anyone else alive in the thick mud as rain fell on Friday.

While they were using heavy earth-moving equipment in places, they had to rely on their bare hands and shovels in areas where they believed there were bodies.

Sniffer dogs were also used to detect those buried in the mud and rubble.

Three buses and a jeepney buried by the landslide had been found "at ground zero", Apex Mining, the operator of the mine, said in a statement Friday.

Initial reports said at least 20 workers were trapped inside the vehicles.

Company spokeswoman Teresa Pacis told AFP that no bodies were found inside the vehicles but several bodies were nearby.

Landslides are a frequent hazard across much of the archipelago nation due to the mountainous terrain, heavy rainfall, and widespread deforestation from mining, slash-and-burn farming and illegal logging.

Rain has pounded parts of Mindanao on and off for weeks, triggering dozens of landslides and flooding that have forced tens of thousands of people into emergency shelters.

Massive earthquakes have also destabilised the region in recent months.

Hundreds of families from Masara and four nearby villages have had to evacuate from their homes and shelter in emergency centres for fear of further landslides.

Schools across the municipality have suspended classes.

The area hit by the landslide had been declared a "no-build zone" after previous landslides in 2007 and 2008, Macapili told AFP.

"People were asked to leave that place and they were given a resettlement area, but the people are so hard-headed and they returned," he said.

AFP

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