ITOGON, Benguet (September 29) — On the seventh day of rescue operations by combined forces of the local miners, the Philippine Navy, local divers and other volunteers, two of the 16 trapped miners were rescued alive at between 2:00 and 3:00 this afternoon.
Jose Panio and Ngitit Pagulayan even walked from shaft 114 to the portal at Goldfields in Barangay Poblacion, here, according to Engr. George Baywong, commander of the Incident Command Post, who is from the regional office of the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MGB-DENR).
Panio and Pagulayan were earlier not reported among the trapped miners. The duo are natives of Ifugao, who came as small scale miners in the Benguet Mining District.
Baywong said one Mario Himmayod, a local miner, led the group of divers and rescuers to the duo’s “destino” or area of work inside the Benguet Corporation tunnel and found them alive.
At around 3:35P.M. the team was out of the portal. Both miners were taken to the Baguio General Hospital for medical evaluation and treatment.
Meanwhile the incident command post corrected earlier reports that one Joel Bulga was found dead Thursday night. Baywong clarified that the first body was that of Jojo Himmayod, and not Bulga.
Baywong said it was Bulga’s uncle who earlier claimed the body but when the second body was retrieved Friday morning, the miners among the rescuers deduced the first was not Bulga.
Brothers Jojo and Vincent Himmayod used to work together inside the tunnel. When their mother came, he identified Jojo through his toenail. Like Bulga, Jojo had a scar on the forehead, Baywong told the press this morning. # Lyn V. Ramo/Northern Dispatch Weekly