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No More Survivors Found in Philippines Mudslides


In the Philippines mass burials have begun for the estimated eighteen hundred victims of Friday's mudslides. The river of mud buried an entire farming village in the Southern Leyte province. Only twenty survivors were pulled from the mud on Friday. None since then. The U.S. military has arrived to help with the relief operations. Carlos Conde has been reporting on this for the New York Times. He was at the scene of the disaster today. We reached him on his cell phone in this remote area of the Philippines.

What's left of the village of Guinsaugon?

Mr. CARLOS CONDE (Reporter, New York Times): To put it simply, nothing. It is completely covered in dirt and debris and mud. Outside from the location of a roof jutting out of the mud, nothing would indicate that this was once a village.

ELLIOTT: In a brief moment of hope, relief workers detected scratching noises coming from an area where a school is believed to be submerged under the mud. They guessed that survivors had gotten caught in a cave-like space where the mud failed to penetrate.

Mr. CONDE: Unfortunately when they moved closer to check the scratching sound, they heard sort of like a thud on the roof and then suddenly the ground where they heard this thud started to ever so slowly cave in.

ELLIOTT: So the one little hope that they had hearing this sound, that sound stopped after they heard a thud and it sounded like that area caved in.

Mr. CONDE: That's correct. On Friday there were also reports of some of the children, or some of teachers inside the school sending phone text messages to their relatives, and then by Friday evening the text messages just stopped.

ELLIOTT: The mudslide was triggered by two weeks of rain in the area, but Conde says officials site logging as the underlying reason.

Mr. CONDE: The logging explanation being put forth by officials is that there have been massive (unintelligible) of the forest around this area. That is key to why the ground is not so stable.

ELLIOTT: So part of the reason is because there is not enough forest there to absorb all that water.

Mr. CONDE: Yeah, that's what they say.

ELLIOTT: Carlos Conde is a stringer for the New York Times in the Philippines. Just ahead on ALL THINGS CONISDERED, we revisit the Philippines' People Power Revolution. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.