By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
BAGUIO CITY –Trapped for seven days in a small scale mining tunnel in Benguet, a pocket miner was rescued on Friday, August 10 by volunteers from the local residents and other agencies.
Felipe Plimaco, 33 years old, went into their mine tunnel at Bila, Bokod, Benguet at 1 PM on August 3 and was trapped inside when ceiling of their tunnel collapsed, residents lamented.
In an interview, Macario Macay said that Plimaco was rescued on Friday, August 10. “He was brought to the Benguet General Hospital for further examination as recommended by our municipal health officer,” he explained.
Plimaco is alive and safe, added Macay. He is from San Gabriel, La Union who went to the area to work as small scale miner, a resident added.
Reports from the Benguet Governor’s Office and the Cordillera Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CRDRRMC) stated that a part of the ceiling of the tunnel in Bila, Bokod eroded which totally blocked the small tunnel. The tunnel is reportedly too narrow and fits only one person at a time.
Residents tried to rescue Plimaco by manually removing the boulders that blocked the tunnel but the nature of the tunnel – which is narrow and the continuous rains – slowed the rescuers. More volunteers arrived to help the local rescuers.
As they dug in, rescuers were able to establish communication when they went near the victim inside the tunnel.
A two inches diameter GI pipe was inserted through the eroded ceiling. “It was used as a conveyor device for food, oxygen and communication to the victim,” stated the CRDRRMC bulletin.
There were times that the clearing operations went to one meter distance near the victim but erosion reoccurred, added the CRDRRMC.
During the height of typhoon Gener and after when monsoon rains followed the typhoon, Governor Nestor Fongwan advised all small scall miners to suspend their work.
He had been early in his warning as small scall miners had been trapped or died inside their tunnel due to past erosions.
Small scale mining in Bokod and nearby Itogon town had been practiced by the Ibalois since time immemorial. # Arthur L. Allad-iw