The death toll from a massive landslide near a gold mine in the southern mountain village of Masara, Philippines, abruptly rose to 54 on Sunday. Nineteen bodies were recovered from beneath the rubble, with 63 miners and residents still missing. The landslide buried a bus terminal for gold mining firm employees and 55 nearby houses, leaving 32 others injured. Rescue efforts continue, but the challenging terrain, heavy rainfall, and recent earthquakes in the region complicate the search. Landslides are a frequent hazard in the Philippines due to mountainous terrain, deforestation, and heavy rainfall.
The tragedy unfolded near the Apex Mining Co. concession, where rocks, mud, and trees slid more than 700 meters down a steep mountainside, burying an 8.9-hectare section of the Masara community. The landslide occurred on Tuesday night, and the local authorities have been grappling with the aftermath, vowing to continue the search until all missing individuals are accounted for. Rescuers found a glimmer of hope on Friday when they pulled a three-year-old girl alive from under the rubble, describing the rescue as a “miracle” amidst the grim situation.
Landslides are a recurrent threat across the Philippines due to factors like mountainous terrain, heavy rainfall, and deforestation linked to mining, slash-and-burn farming, and illegal logging. The recent spate of rains in the southern region has triggered numerous landslides and floods, displacing tens of thousands of people and compelling them to seek refuge in emergency shelters. The destabilizing impact of massive earthquakes in the area over the past months has further heightened the risk of such natural disasters.