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Landslide that trapped 40-50 in Itogon chapel unprecedented

The landslide that trapped 40 to 50 people in a barangay in Itogon, Benguet on Saturday was unprecedented in the decades-long history of the area.

Although residents of Barangay Ucab took precautions against the effects of Typhoon Ompong, the landslide itself struck the townhouse they converted into an evacuation center, according to a report on Unang Balita on Monday by Mariz Umali.

No such landslide occurred in the area for decades, residents said.

Some 40 to 50 people were trapped in the evacuation center and makeshift chapel, leading to a warning from Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan that the death toll may rise from 34 to at least 100.

Months-long rainfall may have caused the ground to soften around the town that last experienced a fatal landslide in 2012.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) noted that 72.12 percent or 194 out of 269 barangays in Benguet were landslide-prone.

One such landslide-prone site is La Trinidad, Benguet, where 79 people were killed in a landslide caused by Typhoon Pepeng in 2009.

Only nine bodies have been retrieved from Itogon so far as retrieval operations are hampered by the scale of damage caused by the landslide. —Rie Takumi/KG, GMA News