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Illness Breaks Out Among Philippine Mudslide Survivors

BY Admin  February 21, 2006 at 1:30 PM EST

The rain-induced landslide on Leyte island in central Philippines dumped 30 feet of mud in some areas, obliterating Guinsaugon, a farming village of about 1,800 people.

“The health concern is more within the evacuation centers,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque said on television. He added that medics have diagnosed nine cases of chickenpox, three cases of measles and three cases of sore eyes, Reuters reported.

About 400 people who escaped the landslide in Guinsaugon and about 1,600 people who were evacuated from neighboring villages are staying in churches and schools while emergency teams work to dig out and bury the dead.

So far, at least 84 bodies have been found but no survivors, according to the Associated Press.

An estimated 1,000 people are still missing. Rescue efforts have focused on an elementary school, where 253 people are believed trapped inside. Sonar equipment has failed to pick up any sounds as workers continued digging into the mud and boulders.

Heavy rains slowed the search as did the threat of more landslides. Emergency workers from the Philippines were joined by those from Taiwan, Span and Malaysia along with U.S. Marines.

It was difficult for rescuers to locate where structures had been because landmarks had washed away.

“Even the local population has kind of lost their bearings,” said Lt. Jack Farley, who was heading the Marine division, reported the AP. “They don’t have those terrain features around to distinguish where something really is.”