4 Benguet Firefighters killed by Typhoon Pepeng while conducting rescue operations

While the rest of the country was trying to pick up the pieces of what Typhoon Ondoy has left, Northern Luzon was battered yet anew by Typhoon Pepeng (International Code Name PARMA) for at least a week commencing 3 October 2009, Pepeng brought flash flooding and landslides on the different parts of Central and Northern Luzon, inclucing the Cordillera Administrative Region and the Mountain Province.

 

Massive landslides hit La Trinidad Benguet, claiming the lives of close to 500 residents and injuring hundreds more who were caught by surprise as they were sleeping when landslide covered and swept away their houses on 14 October 2009.

 

The landslide at La Trinidad Benguet was so massive that one news network dubbed Benguet’s capital as a valley of death, with hundreds of people confirmed dead

 

Several towns and municipalities were cut-off.

 

Among the fatalities was Rex Mang-oy, a retired fire officer who led a group of rescue contingent from the local Bureau of Fire Protection.  Mang-oy and BFP personnel responded to a call for assistance at Barangay Buyagan Poblacion where a landslide submerged the entire village.  While carrying out rescue operations in the middle of the night, minor landslides were said to have buried the group trying to rescue trapped villagers. 

 

While electricity at the area was cut off, it is said that the rescuers were operating in relative darkness due to lack of illumination equipment of the local BFP unit. 

 

Also killed in the incident were three active duty BFP firefighters including one FO2 Alfredo Bustillo.

 

Typhoon Pepeng is unquestionably the longest lived typhoon this year and possibly since Typhoon Rubing in 1987.