FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City--At least 18 people were killed in a landslide that struck a gold panning site in Pantukan town, Compostela Valley early morning today, a military official said.
Colonel Roberto Domines, the Commander of the 1001st Brigade of the Philippine Army, said that the incident occurred while the residents of a small mining village of Diat Uno in Napnapan village were in deep slumber at around 3:30am.
Domines said that initial reports early in the morning claimed the death of at least 10 persons. At around 10:00am, the death toll rose to as high as 18 people dead. He said that he immediately coordinated with the LGUs for the coordinated disaster response operations.
"I promptly sent a platoon from the 71st Infantry Battalion to assist the police rescue teams who rushed to the scene. Another platoon from the 72nd Infantry Battalion also joined the rescue efforts," said Domines.
The Eastern Mindanao Command immediately sent a Huey chopper to conduct aerial recon at the site of the landslide. Bad weather conditions had prevented the said chopper to land near the scene of the disaster.
Napnapan village is about 4hours by motorcycle from Pantukan town. It is about seven kilometers from the site of another landslide which claimed at least 14 lives in April 2011.
The local government of Pantukan town had earlier banned the miners from establishing a community right in the gold panning site after the deadly landslide last year.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau had earlier warned the people to relocate after declaring the area a 'landslide-prone' place. The effort of the local mayor to order the miners to vacate the site failed.
The Army soldiers are still conducting search and retrieval operations to locate the estimated 50 people who have remained under the piles of mud and loose soil.