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Girl’s ‘miraculous’ rescue offers hope for families of dozens buried in Philippines landslide

A young girl was pulled from a deadly landslide in a “miraculous rescue” Friday, authorities in the southern Philippines said, as rescue efforts hampered by poor conditions resumed for more than 110 others who have been missing for days.

At least 27 people have been killed and 35 injured, the country’s national disaster agency said late Friday, adding that 89 others remain missing.

More than 5,300 people have been affected by the landslide, which took place in Maco, including the remote gold mining village of Masara on the island of Mindanao, following intense rains.

Search and rescue operations are still underway, Incident Commander Engineer Ariel Capoy said in a virtual press conference on Saturday.

Elizabeth Uy, a provincial official, said “pre-emptive evacuations” had taken place due to the “unpredictable weather conditions at the time.”

Some 1,559 people had been evacuated across eight evacuation centers to date, Uy said.

The girl is in a stable condition, the government added, with Davao de Oro Gov. Dorothy Gonzaga saying her rescue had provided a “sign of hope.”

Rescue teams search for missing miners in Maco, Davao de Oro, Philippines on February 8, 2024. - Jeoffrey Maitem/Anadolu/Getty Images
Rescue teams search for missing miners in Maco, Davao de Oro, Philippines on February 8, 2024. - Jeoffrey Maitem/Anadolu/Getty Images

Families of the missing have endured an agonizing wait for the search to restart after efforts were paused Thursday due to limited visibility and intermittent slides.

The long wait for news of his missing son had become unbearable, resident Wilfredo Pilones told state broadcaster PTV on Thursday.

“The rescue is taking a long time,” he said. “They’ll get buried deeper even more.”

The region is resource-rich, with raw metals buried under sprawling mountainous highlands dotted with agricultural villages.

A policeman carries a baby as officials ordered mandatory evacuation from the landslide-hit village on February 8, 2024. - Jeoffrey Maitem/Anadolu/Getty Images
A policeman carries a baby as officials ordered mandatory evacuation from the landslide-hit village on February 8, 2024. - Jeoffrey Maitem/Anadolu/Getty Images

Aerial photos taken by the military showed huge swaths of land covered in mud along a winding river flowing across the mine and surrounding village huts.

Among the missing, at least 45 are employees of local firm Apex Mining, which said workers waiting on buses to be shuttled out of the mine were engulfed in the landslide.

Heavy rains across Mindanao since late January have led to more than 20 deaths due to floods and landslides, the National Disaster authority said.

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