ITOGON, Benguet – Seventy one pocket miners were trapped for over eight hours inside their private mine working area due to the alleged collapse of their private mine site before being rescued by experienced rescuers from the Benguet Corporation (BC) Over the weekend.
Lawyer Froilan Roger C. Lwilao, BC administration department head, revealed the trapped small-scale miners were composed of 68 males and 3 females who were said to be members of the Dalicno Miners Association operating a private mine tunnel in barangay Dalicno here.
“A responsible member of the Council of elders and concerned residents of Dalicno reported to Benguet Corporation management that a huge number of their private miners belonging to the Dalicno Miners Association were trapped in their private tunnel adjacent to the company’s controlled underground mining area, particularly at Level 1500 because of the alleged collapse portions of their tunnel that prevented them from being able to freely move out of the area after their work schedule, Lawilao stressed.
He revealed immediately upon receipt of the report, BC resident manager Antonio Buenavista deployed rescue teams which were composed of trained rescuers from the safety, security departments and volunteer miners from the company’s Acupan contract mining project to the said site where the miners were trapped in order to rescue them from eminent danger.
According to him, the members of the rescue teams had to open a plug-up are connecting the underground working area to be able to penetrate the location of the trapped miners.
Lawilao added members of the rescue team had to conduct over four to five hours of extensive manual digging from the underground plug-up area before they were able to reach the location of the trapped miners in their private mine tunnel.
“We were elated that the trapped miners were safe when our rescue teams were able to reach the areas where they were said to have been trapped. We express our gratitude to the concerned members of the Council of elders and citizens in Dalicno who informed the company of the incident so that we were able to timely deploy our rescue teams in the area to spare the trapped miners from danger,” Lawilao stressed.
He claimed the rescued miners were escorted out of the underground working area through the Level 1500 portal and they were immediately fetched by BC vehicles from the industrial area to the Balatoc clinic for medical examination.
Members of the Dalicno Miners Association expressed their sincere gratitude to BC management, particularly Buenavista and Lawiloa, Itogon municipal officials led by Mayor Victorio Palangdan and the Dalicno Council of elders for immediately responding to the plea of their trapped colleagues that led to their being rescued from their private tunnel that collapsed and impeded their path outside the accident area.
Itogon is one of the mineral-rich area in Benguet that continues to host the operation of various large-scale and small-scale mining operations and that the municipality is being eyed as one of the potential Minahang Bayan areas that will be declared under existing laws, rules and regulations.