29 dead, some 60 missing in Philippines landslide

MANILA: Rescuers have recovered 29 bodies from a landslide in a quarry site in the central Philippines, while at least 60 are still missing, local officials said on Friday.
The landslide in the village of Tinaan — located in Naga City in Cebu province — occurred on Thursday following days of heavy rains caused by Typhoon Mangkhut.
The strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines so far this year, Mangkhut also triggered landslides and floods in the northern provinces and has left a further 95 people dead nationwide, police said.
Outside of Tinaan, another 54 were missing from landslides and other accidents caused by Mangkhut, according to police data.
Rescuers in Tinaan were searching on Friday for between 60 and 67 people believed buried by the landslide, according to Baltazar Tribunado Junior, an official from the provincial disaster risk reduction office. Nine were rescued from the landslides, he added.
Police, soldiers, firefighters and volunteers were helping in the rescue operations, said Garry Cabotaje, a spokesman for the city government.
“The responders have to be careful in the retrieval and rescue operations,” he told a Manila broadcaster. “Most of them are using pickaxes and shovels because it’s dangerous to use heavy equipment.”
On Sunday, a deadly landslide occurred in an old mining site in the town of Itogon in Benguet province, 198 kilometres north of Manila, due to Mangkhut, burying three structures where residents had sought refuge.
At least 31 bodies have been recovered from the Itogon landslide, while 30 were still missing and feared dead, police said.
On Friday, civil defence officials ordered civilians to evacuate the landslide site in the village of Ucab in Itogon amid heavy rains, triggering fears of another accident.
Most rescue volunteers were also ordered to evacuate, said Major General Ruben Carandang, regional head of the Office of Civil Defence.
“If the rains become heavier, we will not operate because it’s going to be more dangerous,” he said.
More than 236,000 residents were displaced by Mangkhut, which caused damage to agriculture worth an estimated $270 million, the national disaster council said.
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 cyclones every year, causing floods, landslides and other accidents.
One of the strongest in recent memory, Typhoon Haiyan, hit the country in November 2013, killing more than 6,300 people and displacing more than 4 million.
Thousands of people took to the streets in the Philippines on Friday to denounce the policies of President Rodrigo Duterte, and to mark 46 years since late strongman Ferdinand Marcos placed the country under martial law.
The demonstrators included survivors of torture, illegal detention and other abuses under Marcos, who declared martial rule throughout the country on September 21, 1972.
Duterte placed the southern region of Mindanao under martial law last year after militants attacked Marawi City. He has also launched a deadly crackdown against illegal drugs, which has left more than 4,000 killed, according to police statistics. — dpa