The number of fatalities in the landslide in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, rose to 32 and many of these came from other areas of the country, even as far as Northern Luzon, officials said.
As of 11:30 a.m. Sunday, 32 bodies, of which 28 are identified, have been retrieved, Col. Leopoldo Galon, Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command spokesman, said.
The number missing, meanwhile, continued to fluctuate as more people come to authorities looking for their relatives.
From Saturday’s last count of 36, the number of missing rose to 45 Sunday morning and was later reduced to 39.
Of the 45, four – Santos Saraum Sr., Santos Saraum Jr., a certain Jun-Jun and a certain Kambal – were traced to be alive after they contacted their families, Galon said.
Two, identified as Jennivie Maumbad and Michael Noquira, were identified among the dead, he said.
Of the fatalities, 26 are not local residents of Pantukan, Office of Civil Defense administrator Benito Ramos told reporters in a phone interview.
“‘Yung 16 na sugatan maski isa eh walang taga-Pantukan, they are outsiders, meron pa ngang taga-Ilocos, merong taga-Mt. Province,” he said.
According to Ramos, these findings are being considered in the investigation on who was responsible for the disaster and the government’s order for a forced evacuation.
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.
“Nagmimina sila, hindi nag-register sa munisipyo… Will it be fair for the mayor to be answerable for those people who are not his constituents?” Ramos said.
“Ang tanong pa, kung i-force evict naman natin ang mga ‘yan eh paano ang kabuhayan nila? If you are the mayor of Pantukan, will you be responsible for the alternative source of livelihood of people who are not from Pantukan?,” he added. (John Roson)
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