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Landslide Kills 25 in Philippine Mining Town Hit by Storm

A landslide struck the storm-ravaged Philippine island of Mindanao, killing 25 miners and adding to destruction that has led to criticism of President Benigno Aquino’s leadership as the government vowed to investigate.

The slide that occurred early this morning left about 150 people missing, most of them family members of gold miners, according to a 1 p.m. report from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. The calamity in the town of Pantukan in Compostela Valley province “wiped out several shanties and houses,” Southern Mindanao Police Deputy spokeswoman Gretchin Cinco said in a mobile-phone message.

Authorities are still struggling to help more than 400,000 people in Mindanao needing assistance after Tropical Storm Washi hit on Dec. 17, killing 1,257 in the region. Aquino spokesman Edwin Lacierda promised an investigation into why people living in areas prone to landslides weren’t evacuated.

“This is totally unacceptable,” Lacierda told reporters today. “There will be an investigation, and of course there will be some accountability.”

Senator Aquilino Pimentel, whose party endorsed Aquino in 2010 elections, said in a statement earlier this week that local and national officials didn’t coordinate effectively to warn of the coming storm. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said on its website today 101 people were still missing from the Dec. 17 floods and rains, not counting the landslide.

Contaminated Water

Three people have died from leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that spreads in water contaminated with rat urine, it said. At least 171 people are being treated for leptospirosis as almost 8,000 families contend with poor sanitation inside cramped evacuation centers, the agency said in the report today.

“This has been a yearly problem,” Ateneo de Manila University political science professor Benito Lim said in a telephone interview in Manila today, referring to the government’s poor response to calamities. “We see that our political leaders are only interested in handing out charity bags and they think they have done their jobs.”

Local media have focused on Aquino’s attendance of a Christmas party on Dec. 18 as the death toll mounted. Aquino’s spokesman, Ricky Carandang, said by telephone the following day that the chief executive attended the gathering held for his security staff for “a few minutes.”

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