Tunnel caves in

1 dead; rescue operations ongoing to save 20 trapped miners
ONE miner died while trying to save 20 others who were trapped inside a collapsed Las Vegas mining tunnel in Purok 4, Mt. Diwata in Monkayo, Compostela Valley at 11 p.m. of Saturday.

As of press time, there’s no update yet on the searce and rescue operation that will try to extracate the remaining miners inside the tunnel.

An interview with a member of a Civic Crime Monitoring Group, who asked not to be named, only identified the casualty as “Erning.”

“He just wanted to help, but when he opened one of the rocks, a wave of washed him away,” the eyewitness added.

According to him, one of the miners seemed to have drilled a water vein while digging for gold. The pressure caused the water to break through the small opening.

“The water supply exploded and rushed through tunnel 1 and there were about 20 miners inside,” he alleged.

The cadaver of the victim was then brought to nearest hospital in Monkayo.

Meanwhile, Sr. Supt. Ignatius Ferro, director of the Compostela Valley Provincial Police Office, identified the victim as Erning Loquina, resident of Purok 3 in Mt. Diwata.

“As of now, search and rescue operations are still ongoing,” he said.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau has issued a landslide/flashflood warning on the whole of 729-hectare Mt. Diwata gold reservation area because of the instability from all the holes on the ground.

But the poverty has forced people to risk their safety for the prospect of striking it rich.

Nine of the Compostela Valley’s 11 towns have been found to have gold veins; including Mt. Diwata or Diwalwal which earned the distinction as the “wild, wild west” at the height of the gold-rush when a Lumad, Camilo Bunad, first discovered gold in September 1983 along the creeks. Within three years, the population in the sleepey village ballooned to over 125,000.

The MGB in the Davao Region estimated that gold reserves in Compostela Valley alone are about 181,745,339 metric tons while copper reserves are placed at 481,775,616 metric tons.

Wrong mining practices, however, contributed to the loosening of the soil, triggering a number of landslides which claimed hundreds of lives over the years. At the start of 2012, tons of mud and debris swallowed bunkhouses in a village in Pantukan killing 40 people.

According to the study of the regional mines bureau, at the height of the gold rush in Mt. Diwata, as much as 20 grams of gold can be extracted per ton of ore using amalgamation and cyanidization. Now the grade reduced to only five or even three grams of gold per ton. with reports JBE