Mines bureau blames small-scale miners for Compostela landslide

DAVAO CITY—The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) blames the illegal operation of small-scale mining as the main cause of the recent landslide in Barangay Kingking, Compostela Valley Province.

This as the MGB warned residents that another landslide could occur anytime.

MGB national director Leo Jasareno, after assessing the landslide area Sunday, told the Davao media that the operation of about 3,000 illegal small-scale miners in the area triggered the disaster which killed 6, injured 13, and left about 16 persons missing.

“The MGB has presented a geo-hazard map to the local government unit of Pantukan three years ago. The area was classified as high risk for landslide but the miners insisted to continue illegal operation in the area,” said Jasareno.

Jasareno said that local executives from the governor down to the barangay captain have been aware of the danger faced by the residents in the area, but apparently mining has become the main source of livelihood of those people and this made it difficult for the local government units to call for forced relocation.

He said the area is categorized as weak, with several cracks, and vertical displacements. The geo-hazard map even showed that the onset of landslide is inevitable.

The MGB, however, said an earthquake at 2 p.m. that same day that struck 24 kilometers southeast of Davao City could have triggered the landslide.

Following the assessment made Sunday by the MGB team, the official said another slide could occur anytime.

This led the team composed of Interior and Local Government Chief Jesse Robredo and National Defense Chief Voltaire Gazmin and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to declare the landslide area as “no habitation zone” forcing all residents within the area to evacuate and move to another site prepared by the LGU.

The zone covers more or less 30 houses or families working for eight tunnels in the landslide area.

The MGB brought in their resident geologist to further assess the area and such assessment will become the basis for future decisions of the said body.

As of 12 noon Monday, another body was retrieved by the team bring to six the total number of confirmed fatalities while thirteen were injured and 16 remained missing.

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