Philippines storm survivors found

Four people have been rescued after being trapped for 10 days in the wreckage of a building in the Philippines town of Real. 

The four were assumed to be dead, along with nearly 1,000 others killed after huge storms and landslides last week. 

But on Thursday, rescuers heard faint voices among the debris and frantically scrambled to locate the survivors. 

"I heard the digging and then I saw the light," said 14-year-old Ian Carl Bungat, one of those pulled out alive. 

"I thanked the Lord. God heard our prayers," he told Philippine television.

Three other people were also rescued - a three-year-old girl, her grandmother and another teenage boy - all of whom survived after reportedly drinking water dripping from the ceiling of the destroyed building. 

Other voices can still be heard among the wreckage, according to rescuers, indicating that there may be more survivors. 

The four survivors' ordeal has amazed residents of Real. 

Local commander Colonel Jaime Buenaflor said: "I still can't understand how they survived". 

"I thank the Lord for rescuing them," the aunt of three-year-old Estella Mae Sor told the French news agency AFP. 

"Our relatives had given up and left, but we felt we could get them alive." 

'Miracle' 

Those rescued were among more than 100 people who sought shelter in a building on 29 November at the height of one of the storms. 

Real was among the worst-hit areas, after storms devastated large area of the north and east of the Philippines. 

A army soldier told local radio that the survivors had no injuries but were very weak and "white as ash". They have now been airlifted to a nearby hospital.

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo hailed the discovery of the survivors as a "miracle". 

"I'd like to thank God for that miracle and they [the rescuers] are continuing to dig deeper to see if they can rescue any more," she said. 

Illegal logging has been blamed for leaving the landscape more prone to landslides in the wake of storms. 

President Arroyo has suspended logging and vowed to punish law-breakers. 

Local and foreign relief crews are still clearing piles of mud and logs, in an effort to deliver aid to ravaged villages.

09/12/2004

Bron : BBC World

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