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Philippines: Four feared dead in Rizal trash avalanche

Hopes of finding survivors grow dim after mound of trash came crashing down on people in Philippine village

  • By Gilbert P. Felongco, Correspondent
  • Published: 14:56 April 20, 2013
  • Gulf News

At a landfill in the Philippines
  • Image Credit: AP
  • Workers and residents wait for news on a mountain of garbage at a landfill during a rescue operation in San Isidro, Rizal province, east of Manila, Philippines on April 20, 2013.

Manila: Rescue operations to find four people buried in an evening trash avalanche in a municipality east of the capital continued on Saturday even as hopes of finding survivors grow dimmer by the hour.

A mound of trash at a private sanitary landfill of by Swims International in San Isidro village, Rodriguez town in Rizal province, came crashing on Friday evening, burying four employees under tonnes of garbage. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) identified the victims as Gary Balahibo, Pablito Esto, Eddie Malano and Rovidico Olod. They were working at the dump site around 8.30pm on Friday when the mishap occurred.

Rescue workers of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) rushed to the site but authorities ordered operations halted until daybreak for fear that hasty recovery efforts could compromise the safety of the rescuers and trigger another landslide.

According to the NDRRMC, the rescue and recovery operations resumed at 5am on Saturday, several hours after the mishap. As of 5pm the same day, there have been no reports of any victims rescued or recovered from the trash slide.

Edward Gonzales, head of the MMDA rescue team, was quoted in report by radio station dzBB as saying that rescue teams are carefully removing the debris by hand to prevent another landside from occurring.

The dump site is located close to a quarry site and investigators are trying to determine if ground movement near the mountain of trash was the cause of the avalanche.

The trash slide in Rodriguez was not the first time that a garbage avalanche cost the lives of several people. In the Philippines, trash picking in dump sites is largely unregulated and local officials allow shanties to be set up even in high-risk trash slide areas.

The most devastating trash slide in the country occurred in July 2000 in the Payatas dump site in suburban Quezon City just several kilometres away from Manila. Some 200 people died when a mound of refuse, several dozen metres high, came crashing on informal settlers.

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