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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 February 2006, 12:37 GMT
Philippine rescuers find bodies
Rescue workers on Leyte island
Rescuers are still battling against desperate conditions
Rescue work has entered a third day at a Philippines village destroyed by a landslide, with teams holding little hope of finding any more survivors.

Almost 70 bodies have been recovered but 1,800 people are missing after Guinsaugon, on Leyte island, was buried under 10 metres (30 feet) of mud.

Local officials say the focus is now on recovering bodies and aiding survivors.

No survivors have been found since Friday, and rescue efforts are being hit by rain and fear of new landslides.

In a separate incident, five people are feared dead, one reportedly a child, in a new landslide on Saturday night in Zamboanga del Sur, another part of the Philippines. A total of 10 people were reported missing in the Bayog town of the province.

Treading carefully

A detachment of US marines in the Philippines for exercises arrived in the area on Sunday, and two warships are scheduled to arrive in the area to boost the aid effort later in the day.

Another 11 villages in the area have been evacuated.

We're hoping for the best, but we're preparing for the worst as usual
Richard Gordon
Philippines Red Cross

One of the main search areas still being searched is a school where 200 students and teachers are thought to be buried.

Volunteers with an aid group called Maayo have been digging in vain for signs of life at the site, with the help of two sniffer dogs, according to news agency Associated Press.

Up to 30 US marines are also reported to have joined the trawl for survivors in Guinsaugon, advising rescue workers to tread carefully in the soft mud or risk drowning.

The BBC's Sarah Toms at the scene in Guinsaugon says rescue efforts are continuing even though hopes are fading that any more survivors will be found.

Two more bodies were recovered on Sunday morning, but that is dwarfed by the numbers still missing.

Click to see more detailed map of the area

"It's mind-boggling, it's horrendous. I have never seen a natural disaster like that," said US Marine Manuel Biadog, a Filipino-American chaplain told the Associated Press news agency.

Two US warships - the USS Essex and the USS Harper's Ferry - are due to reach Southern Leyte on Sunday.

The Red Cross has launched an appeal for money and more aid.

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.

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

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.




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Exhausted rescuers struggle to find survivors



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