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Philippine Landslide Buries Village - Hundreds Missing


Mudslides triggered by heavy rains have buried a village in the eastern Philippines. At least 15 bodies have been recovered. The Red Cross says hundreds are missing and the death toll is expected to rise.

Desperate rescuers dug by hand for survivors all day Friday in the mud-swallowed village of Guinsaugon in the eastern Philippine province of Leyte.

One survivor told Manila's GMA television that he felt tremors and then saw huge boulders the size of houses falling down the mountainside.

The man says the entire village has been wiped out.

The Philippine Red Cross is sending relief supplies to the area, including generators and body bags. President Gloria Arroyo promised swift aid to the landslide victims.

"The full resources of the government are being harnessed to bring the biggest possible rescue and relief resources to you the fastest way possible," said Gloria Arroyo.

Rescue efforts are being hampered by rain, blocked roads and washed out bridges.

Philippine Navy and Coast Guard ships are rushing to the area and the United States says it is sending one of its Navy ships to assist in the relief operations. Dozens of U.S. troops are currently in the Philippines for a joint military exercise.

The wall of mud collapsed on the village early Friday morning. Television footage shows a carpet of reddish brown earth where the village once stood, and the scattered wooden debris of destroyed houses and toppled coconut trees.

More than 1,000 people lived in the village.

Like much of the eastern Visayas island group, Leyte has experienced heavy rains for about 10 days. More than 20 people were killed in landslides earlier this week on the island.

President Arroyo this week ordered government agencies to prepare for an early and prolonged rainy season because of the weather phenomenon called "La Nina".

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