Dozens of houses buried in massive landslide in Philippines

Rescuers conduct search houses for survivors after a landslide struck a village in Naga city (AP) Credit: AP/Press Association Images

A massive landslide has buried dozens of homes in two villages near a central Philippine mountain, killing at least four people.

Rescuers are scrambling to find survivors after some sent text messages pleading for help, officials said.

The landslide buried around 30 rural houses after daybreak in Naga city in Cebu province.

Seven injured villagers were rescued from the huge mound of earth and debris.

Some victims still managed to send text messages after the landslide hit, police said, adding that elderly women and a child were among the dead.

The landslide struck while several northern Philippine provinces were still dealing with deaths and widespread damage wrought by Typhoon Mangkhut, which pummelled the agricultural region on Saturday and left more than 80 dead and 71 others missing.

A massive search is still under way for dozens of people feared dead after landslides in the gold-mining town of Itogon in the north.

It is not immediately clear how many residents were trapped in Naga city, where rescuers are treading carefully in small groups on the unstable ground to avoid further casualties.

Naga city Councilor Carmelino Cruz said: “We’re running out of time. The ground in the area is still vibrating. We’re striking a balance between intensifying our rescue efforts and ensuring the safety of our rescuers.”

It is not clear what set off the landslide, but some residents blamed limestone quarries, which they suspect may have damaged and caused cracks in the mountainside facing their villages.

Cristita Villarba, a 53-year-old resident, said a light rain had stopped when the landslide hit and there were no rains on Wednesday.

Angeline Templo, an assistant to the mayor, said more than 300 villagers were evacuated from the area for safety as search and rescue work continues.

Naga is a coastal city with a population of more than 100,000. Cebu province was not directly hit by Mangkhut, but the massive typhoon helped intensify monsoon rains in a large part of the archipelago, including the central and southern regions.