12/09/2004, 00.00
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Philippines storm survivors found

Real (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Rescuers on Thursday pulled at least four survivors from a building that collapsed in mudslides 10 days ago, while officials raised the known death toll from storms that devastated the Philippines' northeast to at least 842 people. More than 750 people are missing.

The four survived by drinking "any kind of liquid that dripped" from the rubble that entrapped them, said Maria Tamares, 49, who was pulled alive together with her 3-year-old granddaughter and two teenage boys in Real, about 70 kilometers east of Manila. Covered with blankets and lying on makeshift stretchers, they were immediately flown to a hospital in nearby Lucena city in a military helicopter.

They were apparently holed up in the kitchen of the two-storey building, which was buried under piles of mud on Nov. 29, when the worst of two back-to-back storms that battered the region for about a week hit, causing massive landslides and flash floods, witnesses said. One survivor said there were many more still buried alive in the rubble.

"I still can't understand how they survived," local commander Colonel Jaime Buenaflor said.

In Manila, Philippine President Gloria Arroyo hailed the discovery of the survivors as a "miracle".

"I'd like to thank God for that miracle and they [the rescuers] are continuing to dig deeper to see if they can rescue any more," she said.

Real was among the worst-hit areas in the recent storms that hit the Philippines.

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