The mine search and rescue operations for the miners trapped in a tunnel in Itogon, Benguet as storm “Nina” hit the Philippines was temporarily suspended on Oct. 3 by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB). The relatives of one miner declared missing continue to wait, however, trusting their intuition that he is still alive.
BY LYN V. RAMO
Posted by Bulatlat
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms. north of Manila) — The mine search and rescue operations for the miners trapped in a tunnel in Itogon, Benguet as storm “Nina” hit the Philippines was temporarily suspended on Oct. 3 by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB). The relatives of one miner declared missing continue to wait, however, trusting their intuition that he is still alive.
His family remains hopeful Joseph Anayasan will emerge alive. He was declared missing by the Incident Command Post which led the search and rescue operations for trapped miners in an abandoned tunnel in Itogon.
Left inside the Level 700 tunnel of the Benguet Corporation after nine were rescued and six bodies retrieved in rescue operations, which began Sept. 23, Anayasan is believed to be still inside the tunnel. He was last seen with his younger brother Mario.
“Napigsa ti pakinakem mi a sibibiag isuna” (Our intuition tells us he is still alive), said one of the Anayasan brothers while waiting at the hospital lobby. The Anayasans and their friends continue to wait for Joseph.
“When rescuers came back for him, he was no longer where they left him,” a rescuer said.
Mario Anayasan was rescued at about 1:00 p.m. on Oct. 1. He said he could no longer see his brother moments before he was taken out of the Antamok Goldfield (AGF) portal.
Mario and Joseph reportedly joined the mining group three weeks before Typhoon “Nina’s” rains caused the collapse of a portion of the twin diversion tunnels. This blocked the flow of river water that flooded up to Level 700 of the former corporate mine site.
A relative who asked not to be identified said the siblings entered the mines to raise fare money for a trip to Mountain Province, where a relative of theirs who is of advanced age is very ill.
Nine survivors and six bodies
The last three survivors were rescued at 2:48 p.m. on Oct. 1. Mario, Rudy Boling Jr. and Gilbert Nattem were taken to the Baguio General Hospital for physical management and psychological de-briefing Six others who were earlier rescued are Jose Panio Jr., Antonio Pagulayan, Gerry Monyubda, Jeyson Himmayod, Gary Gano and Robert Buhway.
BGH Emergency Department Head Manuel Quirino said Panio, Pagulayan and Muyobda have left the hospital Thursday, while Gano, Buling, Nattem and Anayasan could be discharged anytime Friday or Saturday. Buhway and Himmayod, who suffered from pneumothorax, had to stay another two or three days more to extract the air from their lungs.
Quirino said pneumothorax is a condition where air fills the lungs. “It may be due to the extreme pressure because they had been inside the tunnel for so long,” he told Nordis.
Four bodies were retrieved at around 2:00 a.m. on Oct. 2. They have been claimed and identified by relatives as siblings Marvin, Juan and Rudy Himmayod; and Joel Bulga, bringing to a total of six casualties. Bulga was reported dead as early as Sept. 25, when relatives mistakenly claimed the body of Jojo Himmayod, whose body was retrieved with his brother Vincent.
Of the Himmayod brood trapped inside the mine tunnel, only Jeyson, 20, survived the tragedy. He was rescued early morning on Sept. 30. They are from Ifugao but they settled in Nagtipunan, Quirino.
Suspended but not terminated
MGB’s George Baywong, who led search and rescue operations, said he could not risk the lives and limbs of rescuers after two attempts at getting to Anayasan. He claimed rescuers have searched every nook and cranny inside the abandoned tunnel at 264 Vein of L700.
Meanwhile, Baywong said private miners are not giving up the search operations. He also confirmed local rescuers might sustain search efforts, despite the breakup of the camp involving more divers from the Philippine Navy.
Office of Civil Defense (OCD)-Cordillera Director Olivia M. Luces clarified the operations are not yet terminated. She said the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) headed by Gen. Eugene Martin would still oversee rescue operations for Anayasan.
As this developed, the OCD announced the awarding of plaques of appreciation to the 24 master divers from the Navy Special Operations Unit based in Poro Point in San Fernando, La Union. Besides the said plaques they will also receive the Bronze Cross Award for the services they had rendered for seven days.
According to Ensign Lemuel Rosete, one of the Navy rescuers, it was his first experience to do a rescue in a flooded underground mine site. He said the divers did not mind the conditions inside the tunnels. “What they had in mind is to fulfill their duty to save lives,” he said.
Luces said there would be a closure program where all those who helped in the operations would be recognized and awarded. Northern Dispatch / Posted by Bulatlat.com