More than 200 people have evacuated an unstable mountain village in the southern Philippines where 12 gold miners died and 10 others have been missing since a massive landslide last week, officials said on Wednesday.
Geologists say a 230—foot (70—meter) fissure on a mountain slope above Kingking village in Pantukan township threatens a new landslide.
Dozens of shanties and bunkhouses have been demolished by owners and a government—paid crew on orders to discourage residents from returning, Mayor Celso Sarenas said. A downpour on Wednesday halted the demolition of two remaining bunkhouses and the search for 10 still missing.
“I’ll have anybody arrested if they return,” Mr. Sarenas told The Associated Press by telephone from Pantukan in Compostela Valley province, about 580 miles (930 kilometers) southeast of Manila.
“It’s a life—and—death situation,” he said. “They’ve seen the bodies if they still won’t believe us.”
Most of the displaced villagers moved to a temporary encampment in a safer area of Kingking, where food was distributed and medical care was planned.
Army troops and police were on guard to stop rebuilding and gold—mining in high—risk areas of Kingking, officials said.
The landslide on Friday struck after a downpour and buried several shanties, bunkhouses and tents while gold miners slept, Compostela Valley police chief Senior Supt. Aaron Aquino said.
Despite the danger, hundreds of impoverished villagers have dug for gold in narrow, dangerous shafts in far—flung villages like Kingking for years. Many have ignored warnings and defied government crackdowns on illegal mining in the past, with some saying they would rather perish in a disaster than die of hunger.
Efforts by troops and police to deal with last week’s disaster have been complicated by the presence of communist guerrillas in the gold—rich region.