In a scene described as nothing short of miraculous, a three-year-old girl emerged alive from beneath the rubble following a devastating landslide that struck a gold-mining village in the southern Philippines.
The death toll from the calamity, which ravaged Masara village on Mindanao island, has climbed to 68, officials reported on Monday. Despite the valiant efforts of hundreds of rescuers who tirelessly sifted through debris using their bare hands, shovels, and heavy machinery, hopes of finding additional survivors have dwindled.
The somber reality is underscored by the fact that more than a week has passed since the tragedy unfolded, with 51 individuals still unaccounted for, including both mine workers and local residents. Edward Macapili, spokesperson for the Davao de Oro provincial disaster office, expressed grim resignation, stating, “It is almost a week after the incident and… we are assuming that no one is alive there.”
The urgency to expedite recovery efforts is palpable, as evident from the foul stench emanating from the disaster site. Despite the challenges, rescuers are leaving no stone unturned, with approximately 50 meters of terrain still awaiting thorough search and clearance.
Remarkably, amidst the devastation, a glimmer of hope emerged when rescuers uncovered the young girl from the rubble on Friday. Her survival serves as a beacon of hope amid the tragedy that engulfed three buses, a jeepney, and 55 houses, leaving 32 individuals injured.
Despite the grim circumstances, authorities remain resolute in their commitment to continue search and retrieval operations until every missing person is accounted for. The frequency of landslides in the Philippines underscores the inherent risks posed by the country’s mountainous terrain, exacerbated by heavy rainfall and rampant deforestation due to various human activities such as mining and illegal logging.
Moreover, recent seismic activity, including massive earthquakes, has further destabilized the region, compounding the challenges faced by communities already grappling with natural disasters.
As the nation mourns the loss of lives and grapples with the aftermath of yet another calamity, the resilience and perseverance displayed by both rescuers and survivors alike stand as a testament to the indomitable spirit of the Filipino people in the face of adversity.