At least six people were killed and 31 injured after a landslide near a mining village buried two buses and their passengers as well as several houses in a mountainous region in the southern Philippines, authorities said on Wednesday.
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46 people are still missing after this landslide on Tuesday evening. The authorities initially did not provide any information as to whether this number included the twenty people trapped in the buses.
The landslide occurred in Masara, Davao de Oro province on the island of Mindanao, trapping at least 20 people on buses, said Edward Macapili, provincial disaster management chief.
There were at least 28 people in the two vehicles. Eight of them managed to escape through the windows unharmed, but were swallowed by the mud, according to the same source.
The buses were parked at the entrance to a gold mine owned by the Filipino company Apex Mining in Masara, where they dropped off and picked up workers.
Six bodies were found in the mud, a local official said, without specifying whether they were on the bus.
Thirty-one other people were also injured, including two seriously, who were airlifted to a hospital in Davao, Macapili said.
Macapili said rescue teams from across the region are searching the mud-covered area.
“We mainly work by hand because it is dangerous to dig with excavators as we don’t know if people are trapped under the rubble,” he explained.
Aerial video shows a deep cut in the side of a forested mountain extending into the village below, where several homes are destroyed.
The land above the landslide appears to have been deforested.
Apparently the landslide surprised local residents.
“There were no signs of landslides as the rain stopped on Thursday and it was already sunny and warm on Friday,” Mr Macapili said.
According to this official, an earthquake struck the village shortly after the landslide. The search was called off at midnight because of the danger and resumed at daybreak.
In a statement to the Philippine Stock Exchange, mining company Apex said it had scaled back operations to support relief efforts by providing equipment, personnel and food.
According to Mr Macapili, 285 families in Masara and four neighboring villages were forced to evacuate their homes.
Due to weeks of rain, several thousand people have already had to seek refuge in emergency shelters.
Last week, at least 18 people died in landslides and floods in the region, the national disaster management agency said in its latest update.
Due to heavy rains and widespread deforestation, landslides are common in this mountainous archipelago.
Scientists say the Philippines is regularly hit by storms that are becoming more severe with climate change.