6 die, over 60 missing as landslide buries houses in Cebu

CEBU CITY — At least six people, including a four-year-old child, were confirmed dead in a landslide early Thursday morning in the City of Naga, some 21 kilometers south of Cebu City.

Jules Regner, Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) executive assistant, said the recorded number of fatalities was as of 2:15 p.m. and search, rescue and retrieval operation is still ongoing.

Four of the fatalities were identified as four-year-old Beatriz Hope Chavez, Olivia Meneses, 63; Arel Lobiano, 52; and Romeo Javanilla, 50. The two bodies of female victims recovered from the landslide have yet to be identified.

Regner said the landslide occurred around 5:45 a.m. in Sitio Sindulan, Barangay Tina-an, and rescue teams are looking for more than 60 missing individuals believed to be buried alive in the avalanche.

The PDRRMO believes that occasional rains in the past two days had caused the landslide, which buried some 60 houses with undetermined number of families or individuals. Fourteen of these houses were directly affected and were buried about eight feet deep, Regner said.

Naga Mayor Christine Chiong declared Barangays Naalad, Tina-an, Mainit, Pangdan, and Cabungahan under state of calamity after the landslide.

Fifteen people were also injured during the landslide and were all brought to the Talisay District Hospital for treatment.

Among those brought to the Talisay hospital were Rose Ann Lobiano, 40; Christoper Cemellier, 44; and Nestor Capoy, 52.

The landslide displaced 287 families and 785 individuals, who were evacuated to the Enan Chiong Activity Center, Naalad Elementary School, and Apo Center.

Regner said more than 20 disaster teams, composed of eight to 20 members, from the different local government units in Cebu Province, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine Army, Cebu Provincial Police Office, and private organizations have responded.

Although occasionally hampered by scattered rains and loose soil, Regner said the search, rescue and retrieval operation will continue until all the missing persons have been accounted for. Luel Galarpe/PNA-northboundasia.com