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Mudslide Buries Villages in Philippines, Hundreds Missing

BY Admin  February 17, 2006 at 12:15 PM EST

At least 23 bodies were recovered but 1,500 people were still missing and feared dead, according to the Associated Press.

The mudslides wiped out the farming village of Guinsaugon on Leyte island, 420 miles southeast of the capital Manila, with a population of 2,500.

“It sounded like the mountain exploded, and the whole thing crumbled,” said survivor Dario Libatan on Manila radio DZMM, reported the AP. “I could not see any house standing anymore.”

“There are no signs of life, no rooftops, no nothing,” said southern Leyte province Gov. Rosette Lerias.

Two other villages were inundated and about 3,000 people took shelter at a municipal hall.

The Philippine army and air force, along with the Red Cross, were on the scene but search-and-rescue efforts were stopped at nightfall. Hindering rescue efforts were rain, chest-deep mud, blocked roads and washed out bridges.

The U.S. military sent at least two warships and other forces to provide medical and other assistance, officials said.

Leyte island was the scene of one of the nation’s worst disasters in 1991 when more than 5,000 people died in floods triggered by a typhoon, according to Reuters.

The Philippines gets hit by about 20 typhoons every year, including a series of storms in 2004 that left about 1,800 people dead or missing in provinces northeast of Manila.