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Day of miracles: Infant, girl rescued in Masara

DILIGENT SEARCH. Teams from the Coast Guard District Southeastern Mindanao through the PCG Station Davao de Oro join other rescuers in searching for survivors of the landslide in Brgy. Masara, Maco town on Friday. PCG and AFP photos
Manila Standard

But 89 still missing after landslide as death toll up to27

A two-month-old infant and a three-year-old child were rescued on Friday, nearly 60 hours after a landslide hit a gold-mining village in Davao de Oro, sparking hope among searchers looking for 89 others still missing in Masara town.

“It’s a miracle,” provincial disaster agency official Edward Macapili said. “This gives hope to the rescuers. A child’s resilience is usually less than that of adults, yet the (female) child survived.”

A video of a rescuer carrying the crying, mud-caked three-year-old child in his arms went viral on Facebook as the Philippine Red Cross later in the day also confirmed the rescue of the two-month-old boy.

PRC Rescue Team leader Van Solinap said the two children were immediately taken to the Doctors Community Hospital in Mawab.

The girl’s father, Orlando Malacaste, said his wife and eldest daughter remain missing, but he remains optimistic they will be found alive.

“My neighbors informed me that Senang was found, and I saw it on social media. Her sister was able to identify Senang,” he said in an interview with Newsline Philippines.

Malacaste, who works as a security guard for Apex Mining Co., and his middle child, an eight-year-old daughter, made it out alive when the landslide struck Tuesday night.

The two children brought the total number of individuals to be rescued during the three-day search, rescue, and retrieval operations to 33.

More bodies were recovered Friday, bringing the total deaths to 27 as of late evening. At least 1,166 families are currently sheltered in various evacuation centers in Maco and Mawab towns.

The children were found as rescuers used their bare hands and shovels to look for survivors after the landslide destroyed houses and engulfed three buses and a jeepney waiting to pick up workers from the gold mine.

It remained, however, a race against time and weather to find anyone else alive in the thick mud as rain fell over the area on Friday.

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

They brought along a K9 Search and Rescue Working Dog named ‘Appa’, who helped find a two-month-old baby alive, aside from a three-year-old girl found by other rescuers earlier. PCG and AFP photos

The area hit by the landslide had been declared a “no build zone” after previous landslides in 2007 and 2008, Macapili said.

“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.

Meanwhile, the Office of Civil Defense on Friday appealed to people to stop searching for gold in the rubble of the landslide.

“We are appealing to you, don’t do that now because we have something more important to accomplish. Time is of the essence,” OCD spokesperson Edgar Posadas said, noting that the search and retrieval operation is more important than the search for gold.

“Let’s support the personnel who are putting their lives on the line to rescue survivors or recover the remains of the victims, so they can be returned to their families,” he added.

The offices of Speaker Martin Romualdez and Tingog party-list Reps. Yedda Marie Romualdez and Jude Acidre continued to facilitate the flow of relief goods and financial aid to flood and landslide victims in the Davao region.

“Our Speaker has not stopped in sending help since the floods in Mindanao, until now,” said House committee on appropriations chairman and Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Zaldy Co.

Co said the Speaker’s aid came from his own pockets as he lamented that representatives of Romualdez and the Tingog party-list were being prevented in Davao City from distributing help under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

He said people should not suffer even if there are political differences between the Speaker and the local officials of Davao City. AFP with Vince Lopez and Maricel Cruz

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