Philippines mining landslide 'kills 25'

Heavy rains and a lack of equipment are slowing rescue efforts

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At least 25 people have been killed and 150 more are missing after a landslide struck a mining village in the southern Philippines, officials say.

The landslide occurred at about 3:00 a.m. on Thursday morning (19:00 GMT Wednesday) in Pantukan, Compostela Valley province, on Mindanao island.

Civil defence chief Benito Ramos told the BBC it was triggered by "continuous rain" over two days.

A task force is still assessing the actual number of casualties.

Fifteen people have been reported as injured, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said in an update on the incident.

"A military unit is in the area but they are basically digging with their hands," Mr Ramos told the AFP news agency.

He said that a request for heavy equipment from the provincial government and local mining firms had been made to help speed up the rescue.

Small-scale miner Saul Pinggoy said he was woken up by rocks falling onto the roofs of houses.

"It was dark but we decided to move to safer grounds. Hours later, we saw tonnes of soil burying dozens of houses," Reuters news agency quoted him as saying.

Mining instability

According to Mr Ramos, people have refused to leave the area because they were mining for gold.

Unregulated mining activities have made the mountain area unstable and caused a series of accidents. A nearby village was also hit by a landslide last year that left 14 dead.

Government officials had warned people to move to safer areas but many refused to listen.

Military helicopters are now moving rescue teams from Cagayan de Oro - one of the cities badly hit by Typhoon Washi in December - to Pantukan.

At least 1,249 people are known to have died in flash floods caused by Typhoon Washi, which struck Mindanao late last month.

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