No success in Philippines rescue

Aid workers in the Philippines failed to find any more survivors on Saturday at the site of a village obliterated by a massive mudslide. 

Heavy rain sent a torrent of earth, mud and rocks down on the village of Guinsaugon. A relief official says 1,800 people are feared dead. 

A few dozen people were pulled out of the mud alive on Friday, but only dead bodies were found on Saturday. 

The local governor said she was hoping for a "miracle", as efforts continued. 

"No-one alive has been found today, only the dead," Joselito Rabi, a provincial social worker, told the Associated Press news agency.

The rescue effort has been hampered by rain and darkness because the power is out

The mud covering the village is up to 10 metres (30 feet) deep, and the rescue mission has been interrupted by further rain. 

"We can only focus on the surface, we cannot go too deep," said Lt Col Raul Farnacio. 

The US has sent two ships and a UN disaster assessment team is on its way. Another 11 villages in the area have been evacuated. 

President Gloria Arroyo has said that people should be braced for "the prospect of more landslides." 

School search

The rescue attempt focused on the village's school, where about 200 children and 40 adults were believed to be buried. On Friday, rescuers received text messages from the victims. 

"We're still in one room, alive," read one. "We are alive. Dig us out," said another. 

But no messages were received on Saturday. Attempts to dig down to the school building were hampered by boulders "as big as houses", one official told the AFP news agency. 

"There is nothing, just earth and mud," said Eunerio Bagaipo, 42, who lost a number of relatives in the disaster. 

'All gone'

Two US warships - the USS Essex and the USS Harper's Ferry - are due to reach Southern Leyte at daybreak on Sunday, said US charge d'affaires Paul Jones.  He said the US had given $100,000 worth of disaster equipment.

The Red Cross has despatched a plane carrying basic supplies and body bags. 

It has launched an appeal for money to help survivors with tents, blankets, medicines and other supplies. 

A rescue worker told the BBC News website teams had hauled bodies and traumatised survivors from mud, which was waist-deep in parts of the devastated area. 

"Everything was buried," survivor Eugene Pilo said. "All the people are gone." 

Officials said the mudslide happened after about 200cm of rain (79 inches) fell in the area in the space of 10 days. 

Eva Tomol, a board member for the Southern Leyte provincial government, denied that deforestation caused by illegal logging could have contributed to the disaster. 

Correspondents say the area lies in the path of several typhoons each year, and that coconut trees - which are common locally - have shallow roots which leave the soil vulnerable to landslides. 

Southern Leyte Governor Rosette Lerias said many residents had left last week, fearing landslides, but had begun to return as rains eased in the past few days.

18/02/2006

Bron : BBC News

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