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Military to transport bodies out of landslide site
Latest Updated by 2006-02-20 10:14:06
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Philippine and U.S. military said they would transport dead bodies by helicopters out of the quagmire of mud and debris on Sunday at the landslide site here, in fear an epidemic could break out as bodies begin to rot.

Losing hope to find any survivor, nearly 1,000 Philippine soldiers and other rescuers found a number of more bodies Sunday at the huge quagmire of mud and debris here which used to stand a village of some 3,000 people, half of whom are believed to be already dead under the 30-feet thick mud.

The Office of Civil Defense said from Friday up to Sunday noon, the number of bodies found stood at 65, about nearly half of which were not claimed and remained in the field.

About 20 U.S. marines and 65 Malaysian military personnel arrived here Sunday morning together with one U.S. military helicopter and six Philippine military helicopters, as well as five bulldozers.

As the huge burial ground was separated from the main road by a long river, the Red Cross is using the bulldozers as "ferries" to transport rescue personnel, while trying to pave a way across the river.

The U.S. Marine General Master Robeson told Xinhua that the U.S. military is assessing the best ways to help Filipinos in search of dead bodies while preventing an epidemic outbreak as many bodies buried under the mud are beginning to rot.

He said the U.S. military will help its Filipino counterparts to transport dead bodies to morgues in nearby towns before they rot.

Major Neneveigh L. Alcovindas of the Philippine army told Xinhua that the most needed relief materials are food, water and medicines.

A truckload of teenager volunteers came to help, but were turned down by the military and Red Cross officers in charge of the search operation.

Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz, chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), said 35 of the bodies have been identified. And 24 of the fatalities are females while 11 are males.

Cruz told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo on Sunday that more than 1,000 people remain missing. He said rescuers have so far recovered 410 survivors since the tragedy that struck Guinsagon before noon on Friday.

The survivors were out of the danger zone when the landslide took place, according to rescue officers in the field.

There is still no exact figure about how many people have been dug out of the mud alive, with figures ranging from 20 to 57.

The NDCC chief said that teams will continue search and rescue operations. Field personnel are doing everything they can to cover more ground.

A report by the Saint Bernard municipal hall, which covers the Guinsaugon village wiped out of map by the landslide, said 1,371 people were missing, while 1,551 people were in evacuation centers.

Editor: Yan

By: Source: China View website
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