CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 November 2018

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In wake of super typhoon the search for the missing continues

MANILA (UCAN): At least 65 people were reported killed while 43 others remained missing in the wake of Typhoon Mangkhut (known in the Philippines as Ompong) that savaged the northern part of the Philippines on September 15.
 
Most of the fatalities came from the northern Cordillera Administrative Region where the search for people trapped in an abandoned mine continued on September 17.
 
About 300 police officers, firemen, and volunteers shoveled mud and debris, sometimes with their bare hands, in the barangay of Ucab, Itogon town, in Benguet province, in search of survivors.
 
The site has been abandoned since 2009 when the government ordered a ban on all mining activities in the town.
 
In a radio interview, Itogon town mayor, Victorio Palangdan, said a bunker, where the people sought shelter from typhoon Mangkhut, was buried by a landslide, trapping about 50 people.
 
He said that more than half of the town has been a mining area for over 100 years already. “This is the result of it. The mountain is coming down because there is nothing inside,” he said.
 
“We would like to protect our environment .... We are asking that no more mining should be done in this town,” Palangdan said.
 
Father Edwin Gariguez, the executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, blamed the Benguet Corporation, the mining company that supposedly left the area in a poor state, CBCP News reported on September 19. 
 
He said the company should be held liable since its operations rendered the community vulnerable to landslides.
 
Father Gariguez said the area was supposed to be rehabilitated but the mining firm allegedly subcontracted small miners to continue operations.
 
“The community became even more vulnerable to disasters because of destructive mining activities of Benguet Corp,” CBCP News reported the priest as saying.
 
“We need to make mining companies accountable. Justice means reparation for the damages,” Father Gariguez said. 
 
Environment secretary, Roy Cimatu, also announced the immediate halt to all small-scale mining operations in the Cordillera region.
 
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that at least 591,762 individuals in 2,738 villages, 433 cities and towns, and 31 provinces were affected by the typhoon.
 
The Inquirer reported spokesperson for the Philippine National Police, Sr. Supt. Benigno Durana, as saying, “We are still hoping against hope that we can recover more lives. We never know, miracles might happen nowadays. We are hoping for that.”

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