Philippine rescuers scramble to find more than 50 missing in typhoon-triggered landslide

Source: Xinhua| 2018-09-18 21:38:41|Editor: xuxin
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MANILA, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- Philippine rescuers have been searching frantically for more than 50 missing people buried in landslide triggered by Typhoon Mangkhut that ravaged the Philippines on Saturday.

The Philippine National Police had counted a total of 74 dead by Tuesday. The death toll is expected to rise to more than 100 in the coming days as rescue efforts continue to find the people who are still missing.

Three days after the typhoon exited the Philippines, rescuers in the remote Itogon town in Benguet province are scouring the mountainside for the missing miners trapped in the landslide.

More than 300 emergency personnel, including some 100 soldiers and local police, were deployed to help the search and retrieval efforts in the mining village of Ucab where the disaster struck on Saturday.

Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan told reporters that rescuers are manually digging the site, saying that heavy equipment cannot be used because the earth is still soft.

Palangdan added that there are several tunnels built around the mountain, making it dangerous to use any heavy equipment.

He said the landslide victims, mostly miners, defied the order for them to leave the area a few days before the strongest typhoon slammed the country.

The miners continued to mine the mountain despite the government's repeated warning to abandon the area.

A month before the typhoon struck, environment officials in the region has ordered the people living in makeshift shanties around the mountain to evacuate following days of torrential rains but the miners refused.

On Monday, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered a stop to all small-scale mining activities in the whole Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), including Itogon, in the wake of the tragedy.

Cimatu warned that soldiers and policemen will be sent to implement the "cease and desist (order) of all illegal small-scale mining operations" in that mountainous region.

The Philippine Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte is thinking of banning mining. "He has insinuated already, that is high time for everyone to consider doing away with mining," Roque told a news conference.

At a situation briefing on the effects of the typhoon in Isabel province on Tuesday, Duterte said, "I cannot stop mining because I'm not allowed to abrogate any law here. But I want to stop it because it has created a monster in this country."