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  • » 02/17/2006, 00.00


    Leyte landslide "worst tragedy ever to hit area"

    Fr Eufemio Gohetia, director of the Social Action Centre of Maasin Diocese: "We don't have definite information and the people are in a total state of panic. Everything is covered with mud."

     Tacloban (AsiaNews) – "The worst tragedy ever to take place in this area is being made harder because it has not stopped raining and rescue work is being slowed down". This is how Fr Eufemio Gohetia, director of the Social Action Centre in Maasin Diocese, described the terrible landslide that struck the diocese at 10.45am (local time, 3.45 in Italy) in Guinsaugon area, in the southern part of Leyte island. The island is situated in the eastern part of the archipelago.

    According to Roger Mercato, the province MP, between 3,000 and 4,000 people were living in Guinsaugon: as many as 2,000 "could be buried under the mud".

    Fr Gohetia said: "This is a possibility because the region was in full activity: schools were open, as were shops. Now everything is covered by mud and we have no definite news about the 375 families who lived there."

    "It has been raining for weeks," he continued. "The area has always been at the risk of avalanches. The last took place two years ago but it cannot be compared to this one. People are in a state of total panic and there is no way of calming them down: they need food and medicine." Another "urgent need" was to find "secure lodging as soon as possible".

    "Together with helicopters and amphibious means of the army, which have been active in the area from the first hours of the emergency, we are trying to evacuate as many people as possible". All the same, "no definite information can be given. We must wait until the rain stops."

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    See also

    18/02/2006 PHILIPPINES
    Race against time to save over 200 children in Leyte

    They were "buried alive" in the area elementary school, struck yesterday by one of the worst landslides in decades. "They are still alive, you must work fast," said President Arroyo.

    17/02/2006 Philippines
    Philippines, landslide hits Leyte island: 200 dead, 1,500 missing
    "The ground has really been soaked because of nonstop rains for two weeks". Red Cross: "There is no body count yet, it's our estimate".

    21/02/2006 PHILIPPINES
    Leaving Guinsaugon as a massive cemetery, officials propose

    The suggestion was mooted by the president of the Filipino Red Cross: it's too difficult and dangerous to recover bodies. More US troops have arrived in Leyte and President Arroyo has called for a map charting at-risk areas, which has not been made public yet.

    20/02/2006 PHILIPPINES
    "No sign of life" in buried school

    Rescue workers are working in incessant rain on Leyte Island, to dig up the mud burying a building where between 250 and 300 people, mostly children, are believed to be trapped. "It's like working in quicksand," said one rescue leader. "But the number of those missing should be less than predicted."

    20/02/2006 PHILIPPINES
    "Each family mourns at least one loss" after landslide

    The bishop of the diocese stricken by the landslide told AsiaNews: "The population is devastated: the landslide did away with 1000 hectares of land and countless human lives," Filipino Caritas: "We are concentrating on evacuating the area and safeguarding the most vulnerable: children and the elderly.

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