Rescuers use bare hands and shovels to search for landslide survivors in Philippines

MANILA: Rescuers used their bare hands and shovels to dig through mud on Thursday (Feb 8) in a desperate search for survivors of a landslide that has killed 11 people in the Philippines, officials said.

Two days after the rain-induced landslide hit the mountainous gold-mining village of Masara on southern Mindanao island, searchers were in a race against time and weather.

Latest figures from the local municipal government showed that 11 people were killed, 31 injured and 110 were still missing after the landslide destroyed houses and engulfed three buses and a jeepney on Tuesday night. The destroyed vehicles had been waiting for workers from a nearby gold mine.

“It is everybody’s hope that people are still alive,” disaster agency official Edward Macapili of Davao de Oro province told AFP.

“Our rescue team is in a hurry because every second counts when it comes to human life.”

The landslide left a deep, brown gouge down the mountain. Rescuers pulled a person alive from the mud 11 hours after it hit, Macapili said.

“So there’s a chance,” he added.

Police, soldiers and rescuers from Davao de Oro and the adjacent Davao del Norte provinces have been deployed to Masara to help the search and retrieval operation.

While rescuers were using heavy earth-moving equipment in places, they had to rely on their bare hands and shovels in areas where they believed there were bodies, Macapili said.

“The soil that covered the buses was very thick – it could almost cover a two-story building,” he said.

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