Local PNP, volunteers to continue search and retrieval operations in Natonin
BONTOC, Mountain Province — The search, rescue and retrieval operations in Natonin ended on Thursday, November 22, but efforts by various volunteers will still continue.
Mountain Province Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer, lawyer Edward Chumawar, said that the Incident Command Post in SItio Ha’rang, Barangay Banawel in Natonin officially terminated the massive search, rescue and retrieval operations at 5p.m. on Thursday.
On Friday, at least 500 responders from the different agencies, offices and provinces pulled out from ground zero with a heavy heart leaving at least six more bodies missing at the landslide-affected area including the nearby areas, he said.
Natonin Mayor Chiwayan assured that the search and retrieval operations of the remaining missing persons will not stop despite the pull out of the responders from ground zero and nearby areas.
“LGU Natonin will continue to support the groups that will wish to continue the search and retrieval operations,” he said.
On November 17, the Incident Command Post headed by PSI Glenn Apangachan had a meeting with the various responders and local officials led by Mayor Chiyawan and Aguinaldo, Ifugao Mayor Gaspar Chilagan for the general assessment and evaluation of the situation after several days of not finding a body. They agreed to continue the operation until Nov. 22 in the hope of finding some of the missing.
On the last day of the massive search and retrieval operations, an ecumenical mass was held at the Incident Command Post attended by the responders, officials and residents of Natonin including family members of the missing individuals.
“The ecumenical mass was to give comfort and hope for all the responders who have given their best for the plight of all casualties – the injured, the dead and the missing. Moreover, the mass was the avenue through which the people could be in communion with one another for one fervent prayer – that the high heavens be merciful, take pity on all weary souls and grant their hearts’ desires,” Chumawar said.
Local officials also declared a “day of mourning” and the observance of “ngilin” for the whole community from 12:00 midnight of Friday, Nov. 23, to 12:00 midnight of Saturday, Nov. 24. During the “ngilin” everybody in Natonin stopped all work and nobody was allowed to enter or leave the municipality.
Chumawar explained that family members of the missing persons and community volunteers who plan to continue with the search and retrieval are advised to operate on Monday, Nov. 26. However, they need to register at the Natonin Municipal Station for monitoring purposes and they will be accompanied by police personnel to the site for security.
The PDRRMO noted that for 23 days since the incident, the Incident Command Post has consistently worked with all responders, generated periodic reports and has relayed such to proper authorities. Consequently, this has enabled leaders as well as concerned offices to address the influx of queries and to give updates, not only to families of the victims and to higher authorities, but also to various media outfits that played a great part in information dissemination and which helped in harnessing the much needed help needed for Natonin and at other areas affected by the latest calamities that has beset the province.
As of Nov. 23, at least 22 bodies have been recovered from ground zero and the nearby areas where the DPWH building washed out during the height of typhoon Rosita on October 30. Of the 22 bodies, 20 have been identified and claimed by their respective family members while two bodies are still unidentified and were temporarily laid in Alfonso Lista, Ifugao. At least six individuals are still missing due to the tragic landslide. **JDP/RMC- PIA CAR