Search Continues for Philippine Landslide Victims

Posted January 6th, 2012 at 3:10 am (UTC-5)
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Rescue and recovery operations continued Friday at the site of a landslide on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao that killed at least 25 people and left many others missing.

Security forces, local government officials and volunteers are digging manually in search of victims at the small-scale gold mining facility, which is reachable only by 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.

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

Authorities say recent heavy rains and extensive mining operations have severely destabilized mountains in the area.

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.