Body of trapped miner in Danao City retrieved
CEBU (Updated 12:06 p.m.) — The body of a miner who went missing after part of a coal mine in the mountain barangay of Dungga, Danao City collapsed on Saturday was retrieved Sunday morning.
Melvin Landero, 20, of the SKI Energy Resources Inc. (Seri) Mining, was trapped under the ground since 6:30 a.m. Saturday.
Three other miners, who suffered injuries, are recuperating at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City, said Police Officer 1 Joseph Alendon, an investigator of Danao City Police Station.
Twin brothers Eduardo and Edgardo Maying told the police that Landero saved their lives by alerting them right before the cave-in.
Department of Energy (DOE) Visayas Director Antonio Labios said the company was advised to suspend operations after it informed the agency that the roof of the main shaft collapsed at 6:30 a.m.
The DOE also formed a team of investigators.
“Seri is a valid coal operating contractor of DOE. It has no record of accident since 2010. We hope to send an investigating team by Sunday,” Labios said.
They were identified as Ruben Malabago, 25; Ranil Villanueva, 22; and Isidro Bacang, 19. They are from Barangay Camuhayan, Danao City.
Alendon said the miners work for Virlo Construction and Development Corp., a sub-contractor of Seri Mining that extracts coal in Danao to supply power companies operating in southern Cebu.
The cave-in occurred some 400 meters away from the entrance.
According to 46-year-old twin brothers Eduardo and Edgardo Maying, it was Landero who saved their lives when the soil and rocks fell, the police investigator said.
While they were digging coal, using jackhammers, Landero noticed the earth was coming loose and immediately alerted the siblings, preventing from getting buried, the brothers said.
Landero ran back to the main entrance, but it was there where the cave-in occurred. The siblings then went to Landero’s rescue, but their efforts were in vain.
“Naglisod sila ug bunlot kay nalugpitan man ni siya sa dagkong bato didto (They could not pull him out because one of the rocks pinned him),” Alendon said. The three other miners — Malabago, Villanueva and Bacang—were trapped at the other side.
Inside the pit, the siblings were by Landero’s side, but had to go out because rocks keep on falling.
“Nagkuptanay sila ug nihangyo si Landero nga dili magpabiya. Pero dili na man gyud nila madala kay mamatay sila ug apil didto (They held on to one another and Landero pleaded not to be left alone, but they would have been trapped as well),” the police investigator added.
When the miners managed to get out from the pit, they immediately sought help and a rescue operation followed.
Alendon, in a phone interview, said they were not allowed by Seri Mining to get inside the pit.
They also weren’t able to interview the engineer of Virlo Construction and Development Corp.
The twin brothers, when interviewed by police, said they already informed their foreman last Friday to put signs in the area because they were worried about a possible collapse.
Sun.Star Cebu called Virlo Construction Saturday afternoon to ask for the company’s comment, but the staff had already left the office.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), for its part, sent a team of mining engineers to inspect the pit.
Eddie Llamedo, spokesperson of DENR-Central Visayas, said they will check if the mining company is implementing safe mining practices.
At VSMMC, the injured miners were brought to the trauma center where Malabago underwent an x-ray examination after he complained of injuries in his back.
Villanueva and Bacang, on the other hand, were not able to undergo the examination yesterday afternoon because they had no money in hand and their families had yet to arrive.
Jennifer Malabago, mother of Ruben, recalled she heard a loud thud during the cave-in.
“Nagdinaganay na ang mga tawo kay na-trap na ang mga minero kauban akong anak (The people ran to the site when they heard the miners were trapped, including my son),” she said.
Joan Malabago, a sister of Ruben, said minor accidents have happened before, but this was the first time that someone got buried. The company, she said, promised to shoulder the medical expenses.
In June 2010, three miners died after they accidentally fell into a hole of a coal mine, about 100-feet deep, in Barangay Lawaan, Danao City.
Two weeks later, a miner identified as Celso Perez Jr., 31, died after a pit owned by Seri Mining also collapsed in Sitio Portland, Barangay Cahumayan, Danao City.
Danao City Mayor Ramon “Nito” D. Durano III sent the head of the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office and the chair of the environment committee of the City Council to the mining site.
He said that Councilor Rolando Reyes and Engineer Raymund Meca, the disaster risk reduction officer, were still in the mining site at press time.
Reyes reported to the mayor yesterday afternoon that Seri Mining was waiting for the team from DOE to arrive and investigate.
Seri itself, Reyes reported told the mayor, suspended all operations except the search and rescue, which the company began immediately after the accident.
Reyes and Meca also reported that Seri Mining pledged to take care of the victims, Durano said.