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06 Nov 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Karl Romano

Search and retrieval crews have pulled 16 bodies from a storm-induced landslide that buried a government building in the mountainous northern Philippines, officials said Monday.

Efforts continued to find another 12 people believed buried in the landslide in the town of Natonin in Mountain Province, local disaster chief Ruben Carandang said.

“We have recovered, on my record –identified with names and addresses – 14 from ground zero and two outside of ground zero. So we have a total of 16,” Carandang told reporters.

25 Oct 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Wilawan Watcharasakwet and Nontarat Phaicharoen

Malaysia and Thailand have agreed to expand the scope of bilateral cooperation to contain an insurgency along their shared border after changing peace negotiators, and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad promised Wednesday to help solve the conflict as he started a visit to Bangkok.

The 93-year-old Mahathir met with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha as he began his first state visit to Thailand since taking office again as premier five months ago.

23 Oct 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Mariyam Ahmad and Araya Pocha

Thailand’s new army chief struck an upbeat tone ahead of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s first official visit that begins Wednesday, saying the leader of the new government in Kuala Lumpur was on the same page as his Thai counterpart regarding southern peace talks.

17 Oct 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Froilan Gallardo and Richel V. Umel

Thousands of Filipino Muslims displaced by last year’s gunbattles in the southern Philippine city of Marawi demanded Tuesday that they be immediately allowed to return to their destroyed homes – one year after the Islamic State-led siege left more than 1,200 people dead and turned the former Muslim trading hub into a virtual ghost town.

16 Oct 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Wilawan Watcharasakwet and Nontarat Phaicahroen, and Muzliza Mustafa

Thailand has named a new chief negotiator in stalled talks aimed at resolving a decades-long separatist conflict in its southern border region, while a panel representing insurgent groups has expanded, officials said Tuesday.

04 Oct 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Karl Romano

Search operations for more bodies buried under tons of debris are to be called off in the northern and central Philippines because excavation efforts at landslide sites have become too dangerous, the disaster relief agency said Wednesday.

The official death toll has reached 79 people in the northern mining town of Itogon, according to the updated figure from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

25 Sep 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Jeoffrey Maitem and Froilan Gallardo

Rescuers retrieved more bodies from the rubble of two landslides that devastated two towns in the Philippines, raising the death toll to at least 96, with dozens still listed as missing, officials said Monday.

In what is shaping up as the country’s worst disaster for the year, authorities said 51 bodies have been pulled out from the rubble in a landslide that hit a quarry site in central city of Naga, which collapsed on Sept. 20. As many as 40 other people are believed missing.

21 Sep 2018 description
report BenarNews

Mark Navales and Dennis Jay Santos

A landslide buried more than 20 houses and left at least a dozen people dead and scores missing in the central Philippines on Thursday, officials said, as search-and-rescue teams kept digging through an avalanche of mud that hit a northern mining community.

The side of a mountain at a quarry site in the city of Naga in Cebu province gave way after two days of incessant rain, burying houses that belonged to a community of informal settlers, said Supt. Samuel Tadeo, chief of the Philippine Bureau of Fire Protection’s rescue unit.

18 Sep 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Jeoffrey Maitem, Karl Romano and Luis Liwanag

Hundreds of rescuers raced against the clock Monday to dig through 30 feet of mud in efforts to reach as many as 50 miners and their families, who were believed to be trapped by a landslide unleashed by Typhoon Manghkut in a northern Philippine mining town.

As police and volunteers used bare hands, picks and shovels to find the missing people in Itogon town, the overall death toll from the swift-moving typhoon had reached 58 as of Monday, according to the Office of Civil Defense. The death toll is expected to climb.

18 Sep 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Peerzada Mohammad Amin

Separatist groups ordered shopkeepers in Indian Kashmir to close their businesses Monday to protest the killings of at least eight suspected militants by security forces last week, along with five more rebels and a civilian in weekend violence.

On Monday morning, an Indian soldier was fatally shot in the disputed Himalayan region, officials said, as authorities beefed up security across Jammu and Kashmir state to prevent anti-India protests and maintain order.

17 Sep 2018 description
report BenarNews

Jeoffrey Maitem, Karl Romano and Luis Liwanag
Baggao, Philippines

Philippine rescuers reported on Sunday that dozens of gold miners and their families could be trapped by a landslide that buried an old shaft and areas converted into living spaces in Benguet province as the death toll from Typhoon Mangkhut rises.

The typhoon slammed into the Philippines on Saturday bringing winds of 170 kph (105 mph) with gusts of 260 kph (160 mph), killing as many as 60 people and government and municipal officials expect the death toll to grow.

14 Sep 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Jeoffrey Maitem and Karl Romano

Laoag, Philippines

Thousands of people were evacuated to safer ground as the Philippines prepared for the arrival of Typhoon Mangkhut, the most powerful storm expected to hit the archipelago in 2018, officials said Thursday.

Typhoon Mangkhut was tracked earlier in the day approaching the Philippines from the western Pacific at 20 kilometers per hour (12.4 miles per hour) and sustaining winds of up to 205 kph (127.3 mph). It is expected to make landfall in the country’s northern region on Saturday.

13 Sep 2018 description
report BenarNews

Karl Romano and Jeoffrey Maitem

Dagupan and Cotabato, Philippines

With Typhoon Mangkhut packing winds of up to 205 kilometers per hour (127.3 mph) as it churned towards the Philippines on Wednesday, the government placed all disaster relief officials in the north on high alert for potential heavy damage.

Mangkhut, which Philippine officials were describing as a potential super typhoon, was also sustaining gusts of as strong as 255 kph (158.4 mph) and was forecast more than 1,000 km off the town of Guiuan, on the country’s eastern seaboard.

03 Sep 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Mark Navales and Jeoffrey Maitem

At least one person was killed and 15 others were wounded when a home-made bomb exploded in the southern Philippines on Sunday night, in a second fatal attack targeting the same town in less than a week, the military said.

Officials said the bomb was planted near a pawnshop in Isulan town, the capital of Sultan Kudarat province on Mindanao island. Of the wounded, three were in critical condition, Capt. Arvin Encinas, a local spokesman for the army said, adding that fatality had been identified as an 18-year-old boy.

29 Aug 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Jeoffrey Maitem and Mark Navales

At least 36 people were wounded and one person was killed when an improvised bomb exploded during a Tuesday evening fiesta at a town in the troubled southern Philippines, according to a military report from the ground.

The injured included two soldiers who were guarding the local festivities in Isulan town, which is located in Sultan Kudarat province, authorities said.

23 Aug 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Jeoffrey Maitem and Mark Navales

Families of 58 people killed in the nation’s worst political massacre have slammed a court decision allowing one of the principal suspects to temporarily leave jail to attend his daughter’s wedding.

Of the victims killed in 2009, at least 32 were journalists and media workers, in what is believed to be single biggest one-day massacre of press people around the world. Almost 100 people have been jailed and charged with murder, but none have been convicted.

14 Aug 2018 description
report BenarNews

By Ahmad Syamsudin

The death toll from the earthquake that hit Lombok island in central Indonesia has risen to 436, and damage caused by the disaster is estimated at more than 5 trillion rupiah (U.S. $345 million), the country’s disaster management agency said Monday.

North Lombok regency was the hardest hit by the 6.9-magnitude earthquake that struck on Aug. 5, with its residents accounting for more than two-thirds of the casualties, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB).

12 Aug 2018 description
report BenarNews

Jeoffrey Maitem
Cotabato, Philippines

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has begun decommissioning firearms following the historic passage of a law giving the former separatist group autonomy in the south, its chief peace negotiator told BenarNews on Friday.

But the 12,000-member MILF is prepared to help the government against a breakaway unit that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS), said Mohagher Iqbal, the group’s chief peace negotiator.

03 Aug 2018 description
report BenarNews

Mark Navales
Lamitan City, Philippines

Philippine authorities arrested a 58-year-old Filipino man who allegedly helped a Moroccan Islamic State operative plan and carry out a car bombing that killed 10 people on the southern island of Basilan, the military said Thursday.

The man, indentified as Muslim cleric Jainul Malialim Indamin, was arrested Wednesday at his home in Basilan’s Lamitan City, regional military spokesman Col. Gerry Besana said.

03 Aug 2018 description
report BenarNews

Commentary by Zachary Abuza

On July 31, a man drove up to a checkpoint outside of Lamitan town on Basilan Island in the southern Philippines and detonated a bomb, killing 10 people, including himself. The dead included a soldier, five paramilitaries and three civilians, among them a woman and a child.

We should note that the Armed Forces of the Philippines vigorously denies that the attack was a suicide bombing or that it had any ties to the Islamic State (IS), attributing it to a failed extortion attempt.