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Monday, 17 July, 2000, 06:28 GMT 07:28 UK
Manila dump death toll rises
Dump scene
People living on the dump plan to sue the government
Search teams in Manila have recovered more bodies from the giant rubbish dump that collapsed on squatter homes a week ago, bringing the death toll to nearly 200.

Residents of the squatter community crushed by the collapse of the tip vowed on Saturday to sue the Philippines Government for last Monday's disaster.

We want to highlight the criminal neglect of the government

Lawyer Romeo Capulong

Officials say 187 bodies have now been recovered, including 18 badly mangled remains discovered on Sunday.

Nine other people who were rescued earlier and taken to hospital have also died, bringing the total death toll to 196, according to military spokesman Major Valeriano Inocencio.

Major Inocencio said 61 of the victims were still unidentified.

Officials estimate another 140 people are missing, presumed buried under the mountain of rubbish.

The search for victims has been hampered by the combined stench of garbage and decomposing bodies.

Officials say there is no hope of finding anyone alive.

The 10-hectare rubbish tip, called Lupang Pangako or Promised Land, is home to some 80,000 people who scavenge for items they can resell.

The tip in Payatas, on the outskirts of Manila, was due to have been closed last year, but it remained open because of the difficulty of finding an alternative site for the waste generated by Manila's 10 million residents.

'Justice for victims'

The landslide is thought to have been triggered by torrential rains caused by a typhoon and tropical storm last week.

Human rights lawyer Romeo Capulong said residents had decided to sue the government for damages based on negligence.

"We want justice for the victims," he said. "We want to highlight the criminal neglect of the government - national and local - as well as public officials, when it comes to the plight of poor people."

Rescuers removing body
A body is removed from the mountain of garbage

The government ombudsman, Aniano Desierto, also plans to investigate whether officials were negligent.

The authorities on Friday evacuated hundreds of residents around the dump site after a dangerous crack was found on top of the garbage mountain.

The government has promised financial compensation.

In previous disasters, local governments have given compensation amounting to between $110 and $220 for each victim.

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See also:

14 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Stench slows Manila dump search
12 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
'Hundreds' dead in Manila dump collapse
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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