Our thoughts since the weekend have been with our friends from the Emergency Response Unit Foundation who have been desperately trying to find survivors of a landslide which killed at least 29 people near a limestone quarry on Cebu island.
A hillside collapsed and surged down on to some 24 houses in two rural villages near Naga city on Thursday, in the wake of Typhoon Mangkhut.
Eight people were rescued from the mud on Thursday night and alerted rescuers to others still trapped.
Officials from the provincial disaster risk reduction office said on Sunday they believed as many as 67 people were still buried by the debris.
ERUF members were among those trying to reach them.
Serve On volunteers were proud to visit Mandaue City, Cebu, last August and to give search and rescue training to ERUF personnel, and disaster risk reduction training to local schoolchildren, and we are sending out what aid we can now.
Relatives of those buried pleaded for more equipment, including mechanical diggers, to help the rescue workers who were using shovels to dig, but the earth was very unstable.
ERUF rescuers were using vibraphones similar to those we use in order to try to detect any signs of life under the earth (right).
More than 1,200 people were evacuated from the area on Thursday night.
The fatal landslide was the second in a week in the Philippines, after 69 people, mostly miners and their families, were earlier buried in the chapel in Itogon where they had sought shelter from Typhoon Mangkhut.
While the Cebu region was not directly hit by the typhoon, it had led to an increase in monsoon rains, which may have loosened the mountainside in Naga, an area not usually known for landslides.
Families in the area had been evacuated before the typhoon but had returned to their homes when it became clear Cebu would be out of the typhoon’s path.
The ERUF members were among 100 rescuers working to try to find survivors and bodies but police reported that the ground was still precarious and the rescue work was ‘very dangerous’.
A local city councillor said the ground in the area was still vibrating and he said: “We’re striking a balance between intensifying our rescue efforts and ensuring the safety of our rescuer.”
The Philippines is one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, hit by about 20 tropical storms each year and has active seismic faults where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.
As we found on our visit, poverty forces many people to live in vulnerable areas, which makes natural disasters more deadly.
Our thoughts are with our friends from ERUF and everyone else involved.