Rescuers dig for survivors in new Philippine landslide

A photo from social media showing people in an area after a landslide in the City of Naga, Cebu, on Sept 20, 2018.
A photo from social media showing people in an area after a landslide in the City of Naga, Cebu, on Sept 20, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

NAGA, PHILIPPINES (AFP, REUTERS) - Rescuers were digging through a landslide that buried at least 20 homes and killed four people in the central Philippines Thursday (Sept 20), as monsoon rains unleashed more misery on the already-battered country.

The new tragedy comes just days after 2018's most powerful storm, Typhoon Mangkhut, raked the nation's north, sparking a separate landslide that left dozens dead.

Emergency workers in yellow helmets rushed to the scene of the new disaster in the town of Tina-an on the popular tourist island of Cebu.

Days of heavy monsoon rains caused a steep slope to collapse and now searchers are frantically looking for survivors.

Rescuers dug through debris and thick mud at the site of the slide. Injured survivors were wheeled into the back of ambulances and the dead were laid on pews at a local church.

"The landslide buried about 20 to 24 houses and all the people inside were trapped," regional police official Debold Sinas told reporters. Rescuers were looking for about 50 to 80 people, city councillor Carmelino Cruz told the ANC news channel.

"The ground is still shaky," Cruz added. "Every now and then you will hear vibrations."

Civil defence officials in the region said landslides are fairly rare on Cebu, an elongated island with low hills.

As Thursday's rescue unfolded, efforts continued in the hunt for bodies in the mining area of Itogon in the mountainous north of the Philippines, which was the area worst hit by the typhoon.

The storm's death toll countrywide was 88 by Thursday, police said, most from the landslides in the Cordillera range, which includes Itogon and other mining towns in a region known for gold mining.

Mangkhut swamped fields in the nation's agricultural north and smashed houses when it tore through at the weekend.

Itogon is one of the country's oldest mining hubs, with known gold panning activity stretching back to before the 17th-century Spanish colonial conquest.

Thousands of people from all over the country still flock to the upland town seeking their fortune in largely unregulated mining, which is accompanied by periodic deadly accidents.