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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 February 2006, 18:45 GMT
Aid boost for Philippines rescue
See the landslide that buried Guinsaugon village

Aid from many countries has been offered for a Philippines village buried under a landslide on Friday, but hopes of finding survivors are dim.

Sixty-eight people have been confirmed dead and 1,800 remain missing from the village of Guinsaugon on Leyte island.

Australia and China have pledged thousands of dollars in aid and US marines are helping dig at the site.

Efforts to find survivors are focusing on the buried village's school, a Filipino military officer told the BBC.

But, he said, "the exact location of the school cannot be found because the landslide pushed everything away".

Captain Roman Dioso, an air force officer heading a team of rescue workers, said there was still some chance of finding survivors.

"With past rescue missions we have found survivors eight days after a mudslide so we are keeping our hopes alive. You don't know the resilience of human beings," he told the BBC News website.

Relief offers

Dozens of US marines arrived at the site of Guinsaugon on Sunday to lend a hand with the rescue effort.

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

The men were given shovels to dig through layers of rock and mud, amid fears that using heavier digging equipment could further destabilise the mud, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Rescue workers have been advised to tread carefully in the soft mud or risk drowning.

Capt Dioso said heavy earth-moving equipment would be deployed on Monday to excavate the centre of the site.

"But," he said, "this is one of the most dangerous areas. Every time it rains, the mountain rumbles and we have to run to safety."

The US has put two naval vessels and 17 helicopters on standby to help the rescue effort.

Click to see more detailed map of the area

Australia has offered more than $700,000 and China about $1m to provide shelter and relief to survivors.

Local officials say the focus is now on recovering bodies and aiding survivors, of whom none have been found since Friday.

Many at the scene of the landslide are now asking whether they should continue to recover the bodies or accept the village is now a giant tomb, says the BBC's Sarah Toms.

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.

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Exhausted rescuers struggle to find survivors


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