Death toll in Quezon landslide rises to 4

LUCENA CITY, The Philippines - The death toll in the deadly landslide in Real town in Quezon province rose to four after rescuers found the body of a five-year old girl under piles of mud and debris Saturday evening.

Fred Bragas, public information officer of the Office of the Civil Defence-Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council in the Calabarzon region, reported that the body of Josha Lastimosa was recovered at about 8:20 p.m.

The other fatalities belonged to the same family, Josha's mother Normita, 34, and sisters Joan, 10, and Joylyn, one year old. Their bodies were recovered at 3 p.m. on Saturday, two hours after the landslide in Barangay (village) Tanauan buried four houses, including that of the Lastimosas.

Bragas said all residents of the houses buried by the landslide have been accounted. "There are no more missing," he said in an online interview early Sunday.

Three others survived the landslide - Virginia Pia, 36; John Mark Lastimosa, 15; and Jerine Lastimosa, 13.

Past noon on Saturday, tons of mud and debris cascaded from the hilly portion of Tanauan along the national highway between Real, Quezon and Famy, Laguna and buried the four houses.

Police reported that Josha was trapped in the kitchen of their buried house but the lack of additional heavy equipment for digging hampered the search and rescue operation as the road between Real and Famy (not Real and Infanta, Quezon as earlier reported) was still not passable to all types of vehicles due to the thick mud blocking the road.

The road clearing operation was finished around midnight, according to police report.

Two other separate landslides also happened in the nearby village of Tignoan on Saturday afternoon. No casualty was reported in these two landslides that occurred just over an hour after the deadly landslide in Tanauan.

Real and Infanta towns in northern Quezon at the base of the Sierra Madre mountain ranges were hit by successive landslides spawned by heavy rains brought by Typhoon Nona.

Bragas reported that Barangay Magsaysay in Infanta along the Marikina-Infanta road was also hit by two successive landslides. He reported no casualty.

But last Wednesday, a landslide in Infanta claimed the life of a young female Army officer, Lt. Michelle Mae Delariarte, 24.

Delariarte was on board an Isuzu Crosswind with three other soldiers when it was hit by a landslide as they were passing through the highway in Barangay Magsaysay, Infanta.

She died of severe head injuries after the vehicle rolled over twice due to the impact. The three soldiers sustained minor injuries.

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