DAVAO CITY – The rescue operation for the four men buried underground on Sunday morning in an alleged treasure hunting site in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte has turned into a retrieval operation after rescuers failed to detect signs of life.
In a statement Monday, the Sto. Tomas local government identified the victims as Kayl Castaneres, 18; Gerick Marquez, 23; Dindo Panares, 18; and Rustom Rancho, 18.
The victims were trapped inside a tunnel they were digging for treasure inside a residential property in Barangay Kinamayan, Sto. Tomas information officer Mart Sambalud said.
Sambalud said retrieval operation will continue, which entails digging close to where the four men are believed to have been buried.
He noted the men have been buried for almost 24 hours and with water and mud blocking the passageway of air thus they presumed dead.
“The decision (for the retrieval operation) came after the assessment of the Incident Command System and emergency medical responders who convened 11 p.m. Sunday. They bared that the team failed to get signs of life from the buried treasure hunters and added that the men could be dead because of the lack of oxygen in the collapsed tunnel,” Sambalud said.
The entrance to the tunnel remains dangerous for rescuers, he said, adding that a team of engineers was also involved in digging from the other side of the property using a backhoe.
“It was learned that the treasure hunters started their operation early 9 a.m. Sunday. It was only reported to the municipal office around 1 p.m. on the same day when colleagues of the treasure hunters tipped off authorities of their activity,” he added.
He said Mayor Ernesto Evangelista has already instructed that all relevant equipment and assets be deployed to speed up the retrieval operation in the area. Che Palicte / PNA – northboundasia.com