Gold hunters feared dead as rescue operations continue…

City backhoe fast tracks tunnel clearing under the barangay road hoping to save gold diggers’ lives but with much dimmer Hope by the day.

As rescue operations by the city and province continue amidst two slippery and rainy days since Monday, Jan 2, the fate of the three gold hunters in Bolocboloc  continue to grow dimmer by the day even as one of the three bodies was  recovered before sundown   last Thursday .

A joint PNP, fire,  rescue volunteers  continue their retrieval operations for three treasure hunters who were trapped inside a tunnel they made about 50 feet under the ground   in search for gold or diamonds in Purok 4  barangay Boloc-boloc, Sibulan.

Trusting in “legends” and unverified tips of old folklores, four  treasure hunters were financed by an Indian couple  to pursue the hunt for the lost gold, believed to be hurriedly buried in  shallow grounds during the final days of the Japanese occupation.

Bolocboloc is a legendary  area  near the old Japanese occupied airport. Some of them who might have left hurriedly brought some stolen treasures and buried hastily somewhere in Bolocboloc. With the help of a “gold metal detector”  the foursome entered into ajoint venturte with one Chrisine Singh, a partner of an Indian national who is out of town.

They reportedly bought the house for P2M and in November started digging a “deep water well” inside the house along the road in Purok 4. The neighbors although suspicious, did not know that the tunnel already extended across the concrete barangay road leading to the “supposed site”.

But before they could proceed, last Jan 1,the tunnel bellow that was crossing the road collapsed due to muddy water seeping. The threesome were caught  by the dumped soil and until now are not yet accounted for. A fourth light man who flashed the spot light  one Mauro Alforque 44, who stays at Aldead Homes  survived and escaped the  collaaped soil and narrated the harrowing experience the police as he called for help.

So where’s the gold? Believed to be hastily left by the Japanese at the end of the war, gold was believed buried here in Bolocboloc thru some unverified tips. So the treasure hunters dug a hole in the house ( top and below photos), built a tunnel to the site, but due to heavy rains , the sandy soil collapsed burying three diggers. One body that of one Argie Javier, 28 of Bacong, Single, was recovered Thursday night/. Retrieval operations were suspended until the next day. Hopes of saving the lives of two more diggers grew dimmer by the day,. The City and provincial rescuers are doing the retrieval operations. (CHRONICLE PHOTO)

Sibulan and Dumaguete rescue teams responded. Mayors Abierra and Remollo were at hand to supervise the team until the body of one Argie Javier, 28,single of Bacong was retrieved floating in mud water below.

The two others after three days were feared dead without food and air to breathe.

They were later identified through their next of kins:

The lost gold hunters are:

Feliciano Encilay Sr., 62 years old a retirable employee of the provincial veterinary office, resident of Cervantes street in Dumaguete City.

Algie Javier 29 years old, a former OFW who owns the gold detector, resident of Isugan, Bacong (whose body was recovered  floating in mud water last Thursday by rescurers)  and a certain Bobby Baldado of Palinpinon, Valencia who is still missing with Encilay as of Friday.

SIBULAN & DUMAGUETE City Mayors Jose Abiera and Felipe Remoll lead rescurers in Bolocboloc.

The survivor is identified as Mauro Alforque, 44 years old resident of Aldea Homes who narrated to the police he was designated as “lightsman”. He  saw and witnessed three of his companions, situated 8 feet apart, being buried when clay and sand above them collapsed while trying to establish a support system before proceeding.

According to Alforque, his body was half buried and fortunately was able to free himself leaving the three behind with no more signs of life.

Rescue operations was called off midnight last Thursday due to the high risk becoming worse due to the presence of water under and with a sandy soil.

They have decided to conduct retrieval operation early this morning using three heavy equipment sent by Dumaguete Mayor Ipe Remollo, a loader, two backhoes and a dumptruck. Mayor Abiera also sent his Sibulan resuce team.

Bureau of Fire Protection rescuers headed by Supt Mary Joy Candelario were able to penetrate underneath but could not reach to the collapsed site because of a body of water underneath and that the space is only like a dog hole.

Mayor Jose Pepe Abierra of Sibulan personally supervised the retrieval operation early Thursday  morning  with his  disaster risk reduction officer Josephine Barraquias as incident command center head and Councilor Bong Abada as the designated information officer.

Dumaguete Mayor Remollo immediately mobilized the city disaster risk reduction office and sent three heavy equipment while the provincial disaster risk center headed by Adrianito  Sedillo also helped in planning for their next move.

Initial investigations showed that the lot where the excavation originated was bought by a certain Christine Singh from Ramon Iso in May last year.

For more than six months they have dugged 30-35 feet vertically then proceeded northward horizontally for two meters then down by four feet reaching the water bed so they bring in their own submersible pump and proceeded up to 13.4 meters where the sandy/clay soil collapse.

At ground level, it has reached at the other side of the road, prompting the rescuers to negotiate for the lot owner of C and L enterprises so retrieval can be started using heavy equipment./ (With contribitions by Choy Gallarde.)