Massive landslide kills 21 and buries houses in Philippines
A massive landslide buried dozens of homes near a central Philippine mountain on Thursday, killing at least 21 people and sending rescuers scrambling to find survivors after some sent text messages pleading for help.
The slide surged down on about 30 houses in two rural villages after daybreak in Naga city in Cebu province, Roderick Gonzales, the city police chief, said as he helped supervise the search and rescue. Seven injured villagers were rescued from the huge mound of earth and debris.
Some victims still managed to send text messages after the landslide hit, Gonzales said, adding elderly women and a child were among the dead.
Naga city Mayor Kristine Vanessa Chiong said by telephone that at least 64 people remained missing.
"We're really hoping we can still recover them alive," she said.
The landslide hit while several northern Philippine provinces were still dealing with deaths and widespread damage wrought by Typhoon Mangkhut, which pummeled the agricultural region on Saturday and left at least 88 people dead and more than 60 missing. A massive search was still underway for dozens of people feared dead after landslides in the gold-mining town of Itogon in the north.
Cebu province was not directly hit by Mangkhut but the massive typhoon helped intensify monsoon rains across a large part of the archipelago, including the central region, where Naga city lies about 570 kilometers southeast of Manila. Rescuers there were treading carefully in small groups on the unstable ground to avoid further casualties.
"We're running out of time. The ground in the area is still vibrating. We're striking a balance between intensifying our rescue efforts and ensuring the safety of our rescuers," Naga city Councilor Carmelino Cruz said by phone.
Cristita Villarba, a 53-year-old resident, said that her husband and son were preparing to leave for work when the ground shook and they were overwhelmed by a roar.
"It was like an earthquake and there was this thundering, loud banging sound. All of us ran out," Villarba said, adding she, her husband and three children were shocked but unhurt.