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Wednesday, 12 July, 2000, 18:06 GMT 19:06 UK
'Hundreds' dead in Manila dump collapse
Rescue workers
Rescuers are still sifting through the piles of rubbish
Rescuers in the Philippines say they fear more than 300 people could have died in Monday's rubbish dump collapse on the outskirts of Manila.

So far more than 125 bodies have been pulled from the avalanche of rubbish and mud which swept away the flimsy wooden homes of scavengers who worked on the tip.

On Wednesday hundreds of rescue workers and relatives of those buried in the landslide were still sifting through the mountain of rubbish at the Payatas dumpsite in the search for bodies.

Officials have confirmed local reports that some fake claimants had come forward to claim bodies of the victims to entitle them to financial compensation promised by the government.


"They are doing that because they are in hardship," Mayor Mel Mathay said. "We are now requiring confirmation that they are really the relatives."

Officials say they will keep looking for bodies of victims
In previous disasters, local governments gave compensation amounting to between $110 and $220.

Up to 171 people are still reported missing after the landslide and rescuers say there is now no hope that anyone will be found alive more than 72 hours after the accident.

Colonel Jaime Canatoy, who heads a team of about 300 soldiers searching for victims, said the military had been ordered to keep searching until all the victims had been found.

He said that the methane gas produced by the rotting garbage would soon suffocate anyone buried alive.

Relief effort

Red Cross officials say there is an urgent need for relief goods and medicine for survivors.

Rescuers removing body
Another body is removed from the mountain of garbage
Social workers from the Red Cross as well as the health department are providing "psychosocial care" to survivors and relatives.

Sifting through the rubble has been a slow process, and showers of rain have further softened the loose foundation of mud and rubbish, raising prospects of another landslide.

The Payatas refuse site is home to several thousand people who struggle to make a living by scavenging for items to sell.

The landslide is thought to have been triggered by torrential rains caused by twin typhoons last week.

The Philippine government has called an emergency meeting to discuss how best to deal with the country's mounting refuse problem.

The dump was due to have been closed last year but it stayed open because of the difficulty of finding an alternative site for the waste generated by Manila's 10 million residents.

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See also:

10 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Living hell of death dump
10 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Manila's rubbish tip tragedy
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