Mine worker rescued from collapsed tunnel in SoCot

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Disaster responders on Thursday rescued a mine worker who was trapped for about 42 hours inside a collapsed tunnel at a gold rush village in T’boli town in South Cotabato.

Milagros Lorca, head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said trapped miner Jaime Valdez, 33, emerged from the tunnel in Barangay Kematu in good condition at around 9:59 a.m.

Lorca said Valdez was rescued by joint responders, led by the search and rescue team of the T’boli municipal government.

Valdez was declared missing after being trapped inside the tunnel, which collapsed at around 2 p.m. on Tuesday. His two other companions – identified as Arnold Tamayor, 32 and Jun Bangamos, 46 – managed to rush out of the mine tunnel during the incident.

Siegfred Flaviano, head of the Provincial Environment and Management Office, said the three were illegal small-scale miners and operated in a restricted zone in the area.

Flaviano said the collapsed tunnel was already closed down by the provincial government in July last year due to lack of permits and safety-related violations.

“It was specifically among the 15 tunnels that were ordered closed after being found unsafe to continue operating,” he said in a radio interview.

South Cotabato Governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes convened the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board on Wednesday to assess the situation in the mining areas in T’boli.

Flaviano said the board, which is co-chaired by the governor, discussed the filing of charges against illegal small-scale mining contractors and operators in Barangays Kematu and Desawo in Tboli.

It also considered conducting another round of geo-hazard assessment and the possible issuance of a stoppage order for the affected mining sites. PNA-northboundasia.com