At least 14 dead, dozens missing in Naga, Cebu, landslide

CEBU, Philippines (5th UPDATE) – At least 14 people were killed and dozens missing after a landslide unleashed by monsoon rains struck Naga City, Cebu, on Thursday, September 20, inflicting more misery on the already storm-battered nation.

The new tragedy comes just days after 2018's most powerful storm, Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut), pounded the nation's north with heavy winds and rain, sparking a separate landslide that left dozens dead.

A 6 pm update from the Naga City Police Station reported 15 deaths, though two of those listed appear to be similarly named. 

The following were listed as dead:

The following, meanwhile, were rescued:

Emergency workers in helmets and locals with shovels rushed to search for survivors of the new disaster, which happened in the village of Tina-an on the popular tourist island of Cebu.  (READ: IN PHOTOS: Rescuers dig for survivors in Naga, Cebu landslide)

Days of heavy monsoon rains caused a steep slope of crumbly limestone and soil to collapse into a number of homes early Thursday when many people would still have been in bed.

According to Naga City Police Chief Inspector Roderick Gonzales, "more or less" 24 houses were affected in barangays Tinaan and Naalad. He added that the landslide occurred near a quarry site. 

"Even four-story houses are buried," said witness John Rhay Repuesto Echavez, who also saw the human toll of the slide. 

"(My neighbor) was crying right in front of her sister's house. There was nothing left, not even the rooftop was visible," he told AFP. "Her sister's whole family was buried."

Injured survivors were wheeled into the back of ambulances and the dead were laid on pews at a local church.

"There are more than 100 rescuers on the site. They are using backhoes (excavators) and other heavy equipment," he added.

Civil defence officials in the region said landslides are fairly rare on Cebu, an elongated island with low hills that did not take a direct hit from Mangkhut.

As Thursday's search for survivors 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.

Most of those killed in the storm died in landslides in the Cordillera range, which includes Itogon and other towns in a region known for gold mining.

Police said on Thursday that the death toll rose to 88, primarily due to corpses recovered from the Itogon slide.

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. – with reports from the Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com