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Last Updated: Friday, 17 February 2006, 17:26 GMT
'Many die' in Philippine mudslide
Philippines villagers comfort a victim
Traumatised survivors have been hauled from the mud
Hundreds of Filipinos are feared to have died after the side of a mountain collapsed and buried their village.

Nineteen people are known to have been killed and 83 have been found alive, but rescue officials say between 1,500 and 2,500 more might be under the mud.

A school and hundreds of homes were swamped as a torrent of mud and rocks swept over the site on the island of Leyte, following heavy rains.

Rescuers suspended efforts as boulders continued to cascade down the mountain.

Search efforts have been further hampered by thick mud, blocked roads, collapsed bridges and severed communication lines.

I pulled out the body of a... child who must have been as young as my own daughter
Dag Navarette
Rescue worker

President Gloria Arroyo ordered the coast guard and navy to the affected area, and two US vessels are on the way to the remote coastal village of Guinsaugon.

Mrs Arroyo urged her compatriots to "pray for those who perished and were affected by this tragedy".

"Everything was buried," survivor Eugene Pilo said.

"All the people are gone."

'No signs of life'

The landslide followed reports of a minor earthquake in the area on Friday morning.

Click to see more detailed map of the area

Survivors spoke of boulders bigger than a house tumbling into the village amid the torrent.

Television images showed only coconut trees and a few tin roofs emerging from the reddish soil.

"There are no signs of life... no nothing," provincial Governor Rosette Lerias said.

She said the school that was buried had about 250 pupils and teachers.

"We have been able to rescue only one child and one adult from the school area," she said.

A rescue worker told the BBC News website they had been forced to pause their search because the mountain was still "crumbling" and "rumbling".

Dag Navarette said teams had hauled bodies and traumatised survivors from mud, which was waist-deep in parts of the devastated area.

"People are in shock," he said.

Vulnerable area

Officials said the mudslide happened after heavy rains dumped about 200cm of rain on the area in the space of 10 days.

Dec 2004 About 1,800 people killed after a series of storms in north-eastern Philippines
Dec 2003 Up to 200 people die in landslides in Southern Leyte
Nov 1991 Typhoon Thelma strikes Leyte causing floods that drown at least 5,000

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

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

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

Are you from the area affected? Send us your comments and a contact phone number using the form below.

You can send any footage or pictures you may have to yourpics@bbc.co.uk

The comments below reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Its not that the government make any funds available, it's that there is not enough money to reach the remotest areas, areas that need this money most. Most of the money is used to pay off debt owed to the First World which stifles infrastructure development, critical infrastructure to prevent tragedies like these. This tragedy had already occurred 15 years ago in this same island. Until such funds are made available to these far flung areas, this tragedy will happen again and again.
AC, Kent, UK

My heart is sad for the Philippine people. I have a 2 1/2 year old granddaughter of Philippine decent and I have been keeping a diary of things that have happened since her birth. This is a very sad chapter to include.
Ann Trusler, North Bay, Ontario, Canada

My father and his wife are there but exact whereabouts unknown. Unable to contact him by phone, he has no mobile.
Miss Lee Gray, Letchworth Garden City, UK

We have a coral reef conservation project based nearby. Our British expedition team are all well and have not been directly affected. We have sent staff to the scene to assess what level of relief support we can offer - medical aid, accommodation, food logistical support etc for the survivors and the rescue effort.
Peter Raines, London

How totally tragic. Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragedy. It seems that once again deforestation contributes to catastrophe.
Steve, Maine, USA

As my friends would say, Southern Leyte is the "Land of Promise". At election time, every politician would promise to cement the road and build the bridges once they're elected. In 2005, I finally got to see the road to Southern Leyte cemented. However, with the recent flooding events occurring everywhere, maybe the Philippine government needs to take a closer look on how these roads are constructed. The outlets of rain water from rivers and streams are either blocked or the flow outlets of rivers through bridges are reduced, underestimating the flow of water after weeks or even months of heavy rain. I heard this was the first time in history that St Bernard had flooded after just a week of rain. My barrio in Osao, Cabalian, a town next to St Bernard, was flooded after just a week of rain which is very unusual.
Elsa Letheney, Phoenix, AZ, US

I regret the chaos that took place in The Philippines; such is how the wicked world. I extend my condolences to the Filipinos and the survivors.
D. Robertson, Pilkawo, Liberia

May the Almighty God bless you for your efforts. Keep up the goodwork.
Derek Ofosu-Barko, Accra, Ghana

I just came back from there. Absolute carnage caused by that mudslide. I couldn't even recognise which house was which.
S T, England

I have been to many towns in provinces around The Philippines and when a big storm comes there will always be casualties. This is because people don't do anything to protect themselves such as developing drainage systems. They also build their houses in areas prone to mudslides such as on the sides of mountains. They really need to make drainage systems such as man made lakes for heavy rain to flow in to. Unfortunately The Philippines government doesn't find this a high priority and doesn't make any funds available for such developments.
Phil, England

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See the rescue efforts after the devastating mudslide

What caused Philippines landslide?
17 Feb 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Area's villagers left in fear
17 Feb 06 |  Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Philippines mudslide
17 Feb 06 |  In Pictures
Philippines flooding causes chaos
08 Dec 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Philippines struggles with storm damage
07 Dec 04 |  Asia-Pacific
New typhoon batters Philippines
03 Dec 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: The Philippines
03 Jan 06 |  Country profiles


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