Sounds Detected from Buried Philippine School; No Survivors Found Yet

Rescuers detected “signs of life” Monday at the site of an elementary school buried under mud from the massive mudslide in the eastern Philippines, but so far no survivors have been found.

“We have yet to find any survivors," Captain Burrell Parmer, a spokesman for U.S Marines taking part in the rescue operation, told the ABS-CBN television channel on Monday.

"Our troops have found dead bodies," he said. "They dig with their bare hands and place them in body bags."

Earlier on Monday high-tech equipments detected sounds of “scratching and a rhythmic tapping” according to the Associated Press.

Following unconfirmed reports that some of the trapped children and teachers may have sent cell phone text messages to relatives soon after Friday’s disaster, rescuers focused on the school.

On Friday, a mudslide triggered by heavy rains over the last two weeks swept away hundreds of houses and schools in the farming village of Guinsaugon, 420 miles southeast of Manila.

Officials announced on Saturday that an estimated 1,800 people may have died and that the chances of anyone else being found alive were “very, very slim,” according to Reuters.

Relief Efforts

Relief teams from World Vision, one of the largest Christian relief and development organizations in the world, meanwhile, have been helping in Guinsaugon and began to distribute aid to more than 600 people as an initial response to the disaster on Sunday. WV child protection and health staff arrived on Feb. 19 to help with the response.

So far WV Australia has committed US$50,000 to the disaster and World Vision’s local partner NGOs are also providing US$29,000. Further appeals for funding may follow a World Vision assessment of the damage, reported WV International in a news release on Feb. 18.

Speaking from the scene of the disaster Boy Bersales, WV Philippines disaster management coordinator, said “The whole village is under 100 feet of mud.”

“The situation here is physically and emotionally devastating,” he said, according to WVI.

WV relief teams have been asked by the government to purchase and supply rice, beans, dried fish, water, noodles, mosquito nets, blankets and mats. The relief operation will last an estimated 2-3 weeks.