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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 February 2006, 15:41 GMT
Eyewitness: 'Treacherous mud'
Hopes are fading of finding more survivors at the site of Friday's devastating landslide on Leyte island.

Two rescue workers who spent Saturday recovering bodies told the BBC News website about the treacherous conditions hampering their work.


Dag Navarette. Photo taken by Justin Gosling
Dag Navarette says the priority for Sunday's rescue is the school
Dag Navarette says he feared for his own life as he tried to find survivors in the mud.

I'm so tired. It's been a long day. Today my team found two-and-half people. I say "half" because it was only half a body.

This has been unbelievably traumatic.

And it is very dangerous work. You don't walk through the mud, you swim. The atmosphere is grim and when we are digging we fear for our own lives because the mud is so unstable.

We had to drag a lot of people in cadaver bags to the collection point. I hadn't fully realised before this how heavy dead bodies are.

The landscape has changed overnight. Another small landslide has covered more houses and so all we see now is brown mud.

There are so few survivors but tomorrow our priority is to find the school where we fear more than 200 children are buried and get to work there.

Tomorrow we are going to be joined by the canine unit and thermal imaging equipment is coming too.

We still have some optimism.

It's very strange around here because the area has only ghost villages now. So many people have been evacuated. A few men stand guard over livestock but the women and children have all gone into the town centres.


Wangyu Abieva spent Saturday searching in vain for the school reported to have more than 200 students inside at the time of the landslide.

We searched for the school building but nobody could find the location because most of the houses have been moved about half-a-kilometre away from their original location by the mud. The village has simply shifted.

Some locals said they heard knocking in one place. We tried to dig but the search produced nothing. There are big stones, boulders and rocks getting in our way.

It's too dangerous for machines to go there so we are working with shovels.

There are people watching and waiting for relatives here
This morning we had to temporarily stop the search because it was too dangerous for us to work.

We are just retrieving bodies. As the day went on we kept looking for the school building. We really couldn't find it. This is 2 sq km of boulders and mud. You can't see anything else.

It is very demoralising for the group. We're still hopeful that somehow we can find somebody alive. But we haven't found anybody alive today.

On the periphery there are people watching and waiting for relatives.

It spurs us on. We spent some time desperately knocking on rocks hoping for a response from below.

But there were no answers.



BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Aftermath of the landslide



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