02/20/2006, 00.00
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"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.

Guinsaugon (AsiaNews) – The Filipino Church is "concentrating on rescue operations, but above all on offering assistance to survivors of Friday's landslide. We need everything: food, milk, medicine, clothes and prayers". Mgr Precioso D. Cantillas, bishop of Maasin diocese, made this appeal to AsiaNews. The village of Guinsaugon, which was destroyed at 10am on Friday by a landslide, used to belong to his diocese.

"I am on the site of the disaster and I visited the area. It is all covered with mud, roads are not usable and homes cannot be used either. The population is devastated, because it witnessed an earthquake and a tornado within five minutes, which led to the crumbling of part of the mountain: the landslide has left orphans and widows, apart from annihilating around 1000 hectares of land from the map of the Philippines. Each family is mourning at least one loss."

The bishop continued: "Here, the marines of the United States are at work, together with a rescue team from Malaysia and another from Taiwan and obviously the Filipino teams. It is moving to see the help given by these people, but it's frustrating too that their work is badly delayed by the mud and rains, which continue to pour. They work to save what they can, but no one is harbouring any illusions anymore.

"Now, in agreement with the provincial and central governments, we must get down to finding accommodation for the displaced people. Because of the rains and the typhoons, the residents of 11 villages are considered to be at risk and have had to leave their homes, so thousands of people are without shelter. For now, they are housed in schools and diocesan relief centres but they cannot stay there indefinitely. Life must start again, and for this to happen, it's necessary that structures which speak of normality, like schools, are free to restart lessons".

"We are trying to coordinate various entities at work here," Sr Rosane Mallillin, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines told AsiaNews. "However, as Caritas, we are seeking to consider children and elderly most of all: we are looking for powdered and fresh milk and warm clothing to protect the most vulnerable groups of the population, but food, water, mats and medicines are also needed."

She added: "Evacuation work is proceeding even if at a slow pace and 576 families are safe in secure parts of the island. We must struggle with roads which have become rivers of mud and ever fewer shelters are available, but still we are pushing ahead."

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See also
Leaving Guinsaugon as a massive cemetery, officials propose
"No sign of life" in buried school
Race against time to save over 200 children in Leyte
Philippines, landslide hits Leyte island: 200 dead, 1,500 missing
Leyte landslide "worst tragedy ever to hit area"


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