- Posted August 31, 2012 by
Landslide hits gold-rush area in DavOr, 7 bodies retrieved so far
By Ben O. Tesiorna
MATI CITY -- A landslide reportedly occurred in a gold-rush area in the boundaries of Mati City and Tarragona in Davao Oriental Thursday evening trapping at least twenty people inside the tunnels.
Herminia Miones, Don Salvador Mandaya tribal chieftain, said that the landslide happened in Sitio Bangol where there are about 7,000 small-scale miners still operating.
She said that the initial reports she received from the Mandayas in the area claimed that at least two bunkhouses were destroyed by the landslide. Miones said that initial number of trapped miners was reported to be twenty.
A military report confirmed the landslide but said that they are still verifying the figure of casualties. The report identified the two tunnels directly affected by the landslide as owned by a barangay captain of Calapagan in Lupon, Davao Oriental and a certain "Amor".
The military report also confirmed that there are fatalities in the said landslide but could not confirm the exact figure as of Friday afternoon.
Don Salvador barangay captain Baudelio Miones meanwhile confirmed Friday afternoon that seven bodies have already been unearthed in the buried mine tunnels.
He said their retrieval operation is ongoing as they believe that more miners were inside the tunnel when the landslide struck.
Miones said that as of Friday morning the number of reported casualties have risen to 50. Another unconfirmed report from the Mati City Health Office placed the number of casualties at 60.
Miones said that one of the affected bunkhouses is owned by a certain Mancao. Miones said several known mining personalities are also known to operate in the gold rush site.
In a call with the Office of Civil Defense Friday morning, OCD said they are also verifying the report and have not confirmed it so far.
Miones said that Thursday's landslide is the second incident that happened in a span of two months. She revealed that more than a month ago, four small-scale miners died when a mine tunnel caved in.
The gold rush site in Don Salvador Lopez has been controversial lately after the Mines and Geosciences Bureau issued a cease and desist order against all small-scale mining operation in the area.
This prompted Mati City Mayor Michelle Rabat to form a task force to look into the area. Later, Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon ordered the implementation of the MGB CDO. BOT