Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Earth Science News .




DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Mining, logging contributed to Philippine disaster
by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) Dec 9, 2012


Unchecked illegal gold mining and decades of indiscriminate logging contributed to the high death toll in the Philippines' worst natural disaster this year, officials and experts say.

Whole towns were washed away or buried by landslides when Typhoon Botha smashed into a mountainous region on the southern island of Mindanao last week, leaving 548 people confirmed dead and 827 missing.

Poverty, greed and the lure of the precious metal have long drawn thousands of prospectors to the region.

"Mining and logging may have had an effect," said civil defence chief Benito Ramos.

"The mountains have been denuded for decades, and filled with holes by our countrymen who are small-time miners. It pains me to say this, but these are the facts," he said.

The worst-hit southern town of New Bataan is both a centre of the devastated banana industry and host to some of the thousands of illegal gold-mining operations in the Mindanao province of Compostela Valley.

Geologists say the mountainous area is mostly unsafe for habitation. But numerous small, illegal or poorly regulated gold mines dot its slopes and the local government says they provide 40 percent of the province's economic output.

Much of the forest cover was also cut down long ago to make way for row upon row of bananas to supply the major markets of China, Iran and Japan.

The plantations and hopes of striking it rich have drawn hundreds of thousands of poor migrants in search of work. They settle in mountain hamlets around which poisonous mercury, used to extract gold from rock, is routinely dumped into rivers.

The deluge wrought by the strongest cyclone to hit the country this year came despite days of preparations and advance warnings including an early evacuation of vulnerable areas.

Governor Arthur Uy said 75,000 people, or one in five in the province, rely on the mines and regulation is a sore point.

The environment ministry insists it is the local officials like Uy who are required by law to issue small-scale mining permits and who must ensure people do not settle areas considered prone to landslides and flash floods.

But Uy protested that the ministry's "geohazard maps" show that 80 percent of the entire province is a danger zone.

"What shall we do? Should we all move from Compostela Valley?" he said.

Uy also said miners had resisted efforts to relocate them, preferring the danger to poverty.

"It is the risk they are willing to take, just to strike it rich. They don't want to move," he said.

Larry Heradez, a technical officer for the Philippine government's mining regulator, said people in New Bataan and nearby gold-rush areas may have known about the danger but sought refuge in the wrong areas.

"There is a problem of information dissemination. The local officials also thought they are evacuating to an area which was safe," he told AFP.

Rescuers said government shelters were among buildings swept by the floods.

In any case, all the elements of a disaster in the making were already there long before geohazard maps came into fashion, said University of the Philippines geology professor Sandra Catana.

"They (have been) living in these areas before technology came about including the awareness of geohazards in this country which started only in 1990s," she told AFP.

With Mindanao usually spared by the 20 or so storms that lash the Philippines every year, people may have become complacent and were caught unprepared by the typhoon which struck further south than usual, officials said.

But the head of a government flood control programme, Mahar Lagmay, warned that weather patterns were changing.

"Previously we have had tracks in the last several decades where (storms) were moving more to the north. Now, they say, it is moving towards the south," he said.

Some 1,200 people were killed when tropical storm Washi struck Mindanao's north coast in December last year, but Uy conceded that residents of his southern region never expected a killer storm like Bopha.

"This was the first time this happened to us, we did prepare... but we never felt anything this strong. We were taken by surprise. That is one of the reasons there were so many casualties," he said.

.


Related Links
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
A world of storm and tempest
When the Earth Quakes






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





DISASTER MANAGEMENT
477 dead, homeless swell after Philippines typhoon
New Bataan, Philippines (AFP) Dec 6, 2012
A quarter million people were homeless and 477 confirmed dead after the Philippines' worst typhoon this year, officials said Thursday, as the government appealed for international help. Typhoon Bopha ploughed across Mindanao island on Tuesday, flattening whole towns in its path as hurricane-force winds brought torrential rain that triggered floods and landslides. Erinea Cantilla and her ... read more


DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Desperate Philippine typhoon victims await aid

Obama asks for $60 bn Sandy recovery package

Mining, logging contributed to Philippine disaster

477 dead, homeless swell after Philippines typhoon

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Smartphones might soon develop emotional intelligence

Tablet technology takes teaching into 21st century

SES And ESA To Collaborate On Electra To Develop First All-Electric Small/Medium Sized Satellite Platform In Europe

Apple's CEO to bring production back to US

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
French move boosts shark sanctuaries

Big nations block curbs on tuna overfishing

Probiotics help fish grow up faster and healthier

Mongolian mine to affect water supply?

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Clearest evidence yet of polar ice losses

Adventurer to recreate Shackleton's Antarctic exploits

Adventurer to recreate Shackleton's Antarctic exploits

Ice Sheet Loss At Both Poles Increasing, Study Finds

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Invasive grass fuels increased fire activity in the West

Prioritizing rather than canvassing entire plant genome may lead to improved crops

Discovery of 100 million-year-old regions of DNA shows short cut to crop science advances

Housing Sales Data Used to Estimate Value of Urban Natural Resources

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Philippines braces for return of killer typhoon

Tsunami hits Japan after 7.3-magnitude quake

Quake toll rises to six in eastern Iran

New map highlights hotspots for mega-quakes

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
President's allies keep majority in Burkina vote

Africa's vanishing savannahs threaten lions: study

Pentagon says would serve a support role in Mali force

S.Africa hunters try to clean up image

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Africa's Homo sapiens were the first techies

Skeletons in cave reveal Mediterranean secrets

World's tallest woman dies in China: authorities

Native Americans and Northern Europeans more closely related than previously thought




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement