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One dead, dozens missing in Philippine landslide

22 april 2011, 14:55
One person was killed and dozens missing after a night-time landslide hit a remote gold mining town in a mountainous area of the Philippines on Friday, AFP reports citing authorities.

The landslide ripped through shanty homes where miners and their families live, as well as destroying poorly constructed tunnels where the unregistered workers excavate for gold using hand tools, they said.

At least one person was confirmed killed and five others were injured in the landslide at about 3:00 am (1900 GMT Thursday), the director of the government's disaster monitoring agency, Benito Ramos, told AFP in Manila.

He said he did not know how many were missing.

But a spokesman for the military team that rushed to the site, Lieutenant-Colonel Camilo Ligayo, said residents had told him that at least 40 people were missing and feared buried in the tunnels and their homes.

"There are 40 still missing and that is a conservative estimate. The one who gave the estimate was one of the survivors from the tunnels. They know each other there," said Ligayo.

"The landslide is massive and these people, the small scale miners, they work and live on the slopes. They have bunkers, houses, stores. They practically live there," he told AFP.

He said a a bulldozer, a dump truck and payloaders were engaged in the rescue effort.

The landslide hit the isolated town of Kingking in a mountainous area of the resource-rich but poor and violence-plagued southern island of Mindanao.

Ligayo said that rain had fallen on Kingking on Thursday, which may have triggered the landslide.

However he said the reason for the disaster was still to be confirmed, with the excavation of the mountains potentially another factor.

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