The number of fatalities in the landslide in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, rose to 28 as authorities recovered more bodies from the rubble, while reports of missing people again increased.

As of 7 a.m. Saturday, 28 bodies, of which 23 are identified, have been retrieved, Col. Leopoldo Galon, Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command spokesman, said.

The latest count of those still missing, on the other hand, rose from five to 36.

“The sudden increase of missing from five to 36 is due to the reports by individuals and groups to the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) Incident Command Post last night (Friday) of their missing relatives,” Galon said.

Hours after the landslide struck 3 a.m. Thursday, the Pantukan MDRRMC and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that as many as 150 people went missing at Sitios Diat 1 and 2 in Brgy. Napnapan.

The number was suddenly reduced later that day, as relatives of only eight people reported a missing kin.

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

Three of the eight were later identified as among those who died and this brought the number down to five, Galon said.

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 visited Pantukan on Friday, 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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