Landslide Kills 25 in Philippines Mining Community

Posted January 5th, 2012 at 3:10 am (UTC-5)
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A landslide in a gold mining community on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao has killed at least 25 people and left more than 100 others missing.

The landslide hit before dawn Thursday near the town of Pantukan, burying people as they slept in their poorly constructed shanty houses.

Residents were forced to use shovels and their bare hands to dig through the rubble in search of survivors at the small-scale mining facility, which is only reachable by way of rugged mountain roads. Officials are calling on local businesses to provide heavy machinery to help speed up the rescue.

Philippine soldiers and army helicopters are also assisting in the operation. At least 15 survivors have so far been rescued and taken to local hospitals.

Government officials had warned residents last year to vacate the area because of previous landslides. But many poor miners and their families ignored the warnings and were drawn to the area because of increasingly high gold prices.

A landslide in the same region killed about 20 people last April. Officials say recent heavy rains and extensive mining operations have severely weakened mountains in the area.