Thursday, 27 August 2015

Miner’s body found; ‘Ineng’ death toll now 22

The body of another miner was retrieved on Tuesday, the fifth day of search for survivors of a massive landslide that swept a small-scale mining camp in Mankayan town, this province.

The wife and relatives of Nardo Mocnangan identified his body at Abatan Emergency Hospital in Buguias town. It was seen in a river in nearby Cervantes town in Ilocos Sur on Tuesday and was taken to Mankayan early Wednesday.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, who flew to this capital town on Wednesday, were originally told that two bodies had been recovered during a damage evaluation meeting initiated by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC). The error was traced to simple miscommunication.

So far, six miners have died from the landslide in Barangay Taneg in Mankayan. Four others were buried alive by landslides in other parts of the town after Typhoon “Ineng” (international name: Goni) dumped heavy rain and whipped strong wind in the Cordilleras last week.

Benguet Gov. Nestor Fongwan also reported the death of four miners in Itogon town due to gas poisoning on Aug. 23. He said the miners did not heed a provincial order stopping all extractive activities during the typhoon and entered their tunnels.

Counting Mocnangan and the Itogon miners, Ineng left 22 fatalities in the Cordillera as of Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning in Barangay Taneg, the families of the missing miners joined the community in staging an “atang” (offering).

“We beseech the spirits to bring out the victims, so they would be brought home to their families for proper burials,” said Pacita Betuagan Awisan, 87, a community elder.

As part of the ritual, the community butchered two black native pigs at the accident site, which they offered to the spirits. Over 400 volunteers, policemen, miners and soldiers continued to dig through mud, rocks and toppled trees, looking for 10 other miners and their family members who took shelter in makeshift structures when a portion of an adjacent mountain toppled over their temporary camp.

Some rescuers tried to locate the mine tunnels on the belief that some of them might have escaped, but they failed.

Loose soil and strong rain continued to make rescue operations difficult.

“We came here to commiserate with you,” Roxas said during the PDRRMC meeting at the capitol. He said he was also delivering the sympathies of President Aquino.

Before proceeding to Santa, Ilocos Sur province, to inspect the typhoon damage there, Roxas instructed Chief Supt. Isagani Nerez, Cordillera police director, to send more policemen to the search areas and help speed up the rescue and retrieval operations in Mankayan.

He said the police would also send a K-9 unit to help search for bodies.

Thursday 27 August 2015

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Bodies of 50 migrants found in hull of boat rescued off Libyan coast

About 50 bodies were found in the hull of a migrant boat that was rescued off Libya’s northern coast on Wednesday, adding to the more than 2,400 people who have perished at sea this year making the Mediterranean crossing to Europe.

Italy’s coastguard says the Swedish ship Poseidon, which is taking part in the EU’s Triton Mediterranean operation, rescued 439 people from the ship.

Italian media reports say the deaths were probably caused by asphyxiation.

The rescue was one of 10 requests for assistance that arrived at the coastguard’s operations centre as Libya-based smugglers take advantage of calm seas to send boats overloaded with migrants to Europe.

Mediterranean tragedy

Earlier in August, the Italian navy discovered the bodies of 49 people in the hold of a vessel.

Those migrants were thought to have died of asphyxiation. Survivors later testified that smugglers had forced them to remain in the hold.

Smugglers based in Libya are believed to be taking advantage of calmer seas to send more boatloads of migrants towards European shores.

European officials have described the plight of migrants, almost 250,000 of whom have crossed by boat to the continent this year, as "beyond urgent".

So far this year, more than 2,000 migrants have died trying to cross the sea to Europe, the UN says.

Migrants by the tens of thousands are braving the perilous journey across the Mediterranean this year, hoping to reach Europe and be granted asylum. They are fleeing war, persecution and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The UN refugee agency says more than 2,400 people have died at sea so this year.

Thursday 27 August 2015

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