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25 die in mining village landslide

A landslide has torn through a small gold mining site in the southern Philippines, killing at least 25 people and burying dozens more.

The mountainside in Napnapan village, Pantukan township, collapsed at around 3am, when most residents were asleep, sweeping away about 50 houses, shanties and other buildings, officials said.

Aside from those confirmed dead, more than 100 people are believed to be buried in the rubble, Compostela Valley provincial governor Arturo Uy said.

The disaster comes months after government officials warned miners that the mountain above them was guaranteed to crumble.

Scores of soldiers and volunteers are helping villagers dig for survivors and bodies, regional military spokesman Colonel Leopoldo Galon said. The bodies of two girls aged six and 14 were among those retrieved, he said.

At least 16 people were taken to hospital, with six in a critical condition, Colonel Galon said.

Environment and natural resources secretary Ramon Paje said he had warned residents and local officials last year of a fissure on a ridge of the mountain that geologists said was "highly susceptible" to landslides that could occur at any time.

"We were absolute that it will give in," he said. "It was a 100% warning. We told them it's just a matter of time. This is it. This is what happened this morning."

Pantukan town spokesman Arnulfo Lantayan said heavy rains were hampering search and rescue work and increased the risk of further slides "because there is still earth movement".

Thousands of poor Filipinos dig and pan for gold in the area, hoping to strike it rich despite the dangers of largely unregulated mining. The tunnels are often unstable and landslides and accidents are common.

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