The number of fatalities in the landslide in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, rose to 27 as authorities continue to search for people believed to be buried in the rubble.

As of 5 p.m. Friday, 27 bodies of which 23 are identified have been retrieved, Col. Leopoldo Galon, Armed Forces Estern Mindanao Command spokesman, said.

Of the eight reported missing, three were identified among the dead, he said.

Earlier, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that as many as 150 people went missing when part of the mountain collapsed at Sitios Diat 1 and 2 in Brgy. Napnapan.

However, local authorities were not sure how many people were in the area when the landslide occurred early Thursday.

“‘Yung eight na nawawala, ‘yun ‘yung may mga kamag-anak na naghahanap talaga, ‘yung bigger figure may be an estimate, nagkagulo kasi doon sa area nung mangyari ‘yung insidente, hindi natin alam kung ilan ang tao ang nandoon,” Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, spokesman of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, said in a phone interview.

Most of the people in the area are small-scale miners looking for gold despite a government-ordered evacuation following another deadly landslide that hit the adjacent barangay of Kingking last April.

Interior and Local Government Sec. Jesse Robredo went to Pantukan Friday morning, ordering all mining tunnels in “risk areas” closed and all houses demolished, Galon said.

Robredo also ordered the police and military to enforce the “no habitation ordinance” and called on people to report violators. (John Roson)

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