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Rescuers shift to retrieval ops in Itogon

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By Aaron Recuenco

Authorities have given up hope on finding survivors from a landslide-hit mining site in Itogon, Benguet, and have shifted to retrieval operations for the missing victims.

Rescuers carry a body bag containing a landslide victim, triggered by heavy rains during Typhoon Mangkhut, in Itogon, Benguet province on September 18, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE / MANILA BULLETIN)

Rescuers carry a body bag containing a landslide victim, triggered by heavy rains during Typhoon Mangkhut, in Itogon, Benguet province on September 18, 2018.
(AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE / MANILA BULLETIN)

As of Tuesday, a total of 62 bodies have been retrieved in Barangay Ucab, particularly at the bunkhouse where the miners had sought refuge at the height of the typhoon Ompong’s onslaught. At least 30 others remain missing.

Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Francis Tolentino, the point man of President Duterte on Ompong response, said there are no longer indications of survivors in Barangay Ucab.

“We have already shifted to retrieval operations,” Tolentino told the Manila Bulletin after a meeting with local authorities in Benguet.

On Sunday, Tolentino said the scientific assessment of experts revealed that it was no longer possible to have survivors but authorities clung to the assessment of the Office of the Civil Defense that there could be survivors because of the presence of the tunnel system in the area.

The Manila Bulletin learned that even the gadgets brought by the Special Action Force (SAF), which can detect heartbeat under the landslide site, have not shown any signs of life from the landslide site in Barangay Ucab.

House for landslide victims

Meanwhile, the National Housing Authority (NHA) has committed to build 320 housing units for families displaced by the massive landslide in Naga City, Southern Cebu.

Naga City Mayor Kristine Vanessa Chiong said that for Phase 1 of the housing program, the NHA will fund the construction of the housing units in a Gawad Kalinga community situated in the city.

“This is part of the commitment by President Duterte to provide relocation site for the displaced families,” said Chiong.

If the need arises, the housing program will expand to Phase 2, Chiong said.

“In case there will be more families that have to be relocated, 536 units will be built in Balili property,” the mayor said.

Each house, a two-story structure, is worth P400,000. (With a report from Calvin Cordova)

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