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Recovered bodies from Itogon landslide now 23

At least 23 people have been found dead as a result of the landslide in Barangay  Ucab in Itogon, Benguet that happened during the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong last weekend.

According to report on GMA News TV's News to Go on Thursday, 39 others remain missing.

Rescuers are in for a tough time because of the vast area and the digging is only done by manual labor pending the arrival of heavy equipment, the report said.

K9 units from the private sector, on the other hand, have also arrived and are expected to boost the retrieval operations, it added.

An incident command post is also on standby to assist family members of those small scale miners who are missing due to the landslide.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau have both refused to pin the tragedy on mining operations, saying that the area has already been declared hazardous and that the small scale miners did not heed the warning of government authorities on preemptive evacuation ahead of Ompong's landfall.

“The landslide was not caused by mining because there is no mining operation kung saan nanggaling ang debris. What are the factors to consider in determining the area is landslide prone? It is covered in thick soil, the highly fractured rocks, steep slopes and the rains,” Fay Apil, regional director for the MGB-Cordillera Administrative Region, said in an earlier press conference.

“The standard amount of rainfall in the area for September is 570 millimeters. During Ompong, the amount of rainfall reached 970 millimeters just for 12 hours,” she added. — Llanesca T. Panti/RSJ, GMA News