Rescuers still hope to find survivors in Cebu landslide

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 22 2018 10:51 AM | Updated as of Sep 22 2018 12:22 PM

Residents were allowed on Saturday to return to ground zero to gather things from their homes. Leleth Rumaguera, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Authorities are still hoping to find survivors in a landslide that hit Naga City, Cebu on Thursday, where dozens were buried. 

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"Triple ang effort natin ngayon lalo na sa pag-plano kung papaano talaga makukuha ang mga tao doon. We are still hopeful na makakuha tayo," said Baltazar Tribunalo, head of the Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).

(We have tripled our rescue operation efforts especially in planning how to really find survivors. We are still hopeful that we will find them.)

Tribunalo thanked the Department of Science and Technology of the University of the Philippines for providing a map that they could use in rescue and retrieval operations.

"That means we're specific in targeting the houses that were really covered," he said.

Rescuers are working on 2-hour shifts to sift through mounds of earth and debris. 

"Just imagine, 80 ektarya ang part ng lupa na bumaba galing sa bundok," he said.

[Just imagine, 80 hectares of earth descended from the mountain.]

Tribunalo said the weather is also putting responders at risk. 

Authorities are also working to ensure that residents still in areas deemed vulnerable to landslides are evacuated. He said responders and rescue teams would have additional tasks to convince residents to leave the area.

"Kung hindi sila aalis-- 'yung nasa critical areas--mamamatay talaga sila kapag hindi sila aalis," he said.

(Those in critical areas will die if they do not leave the place.)

Tribunalo said they would also call on the help of the police if residents still refuse to leave the area.

"We need to somehow employ force for them to really leave," he said. 
 
Meanwhile, rescue and retrieval operations were temporarily halted on Saturday morning to allow residents to enter ground zero to get their belongings. Operations will resume once the area has been cleared of residents.

The landslide triggered by continuous rains has so far claimed 29 lives. Dozens are still missing. 

Quarrying activities in select regions were also suspended for two weeks following the landslide.