Recovery teams resumed their search at the site of a buried Philippine village today, amid fears that time has run out for finding survivors of a massive landslide.
Teams of soldiers and US Marines, along with Malaysian and Taiwanese experts, had suspended the search overnight because of concern that rain was making the area more prone to further landslides. A small generator used to light the area also ran out of fuel.
The Marines have been unable to use their large generators because they shake the wet ground, making it more unstable. A backhoe used in the search broke down yesterday, and US servicemen clustered around the vehicle, trying to fix it.
In a grimly familiar routine, Philippine soldiers began digging with shovels after daybreak, and the Taiwanese emergency teams set up sensors in hopes of detecting sounds from any survivors holding out below the surface.
No one has been found alive since just hours after a mountainside collapsed last Friday in a wall of mud and boulders that swamped the farming village of Guinsaugon on Leyte island. The official death toll rose to 107 and officials fear it could surpass 1,000.
Rescue workers have struggled to find a mud-swamped primary school since the disaster, uncertain if they were even digging in the right place.
A Philippine mining engineer, Melchor Taclobao, said searchers had abandoned the spot where they were digging after they hit the original level of the ground, about 66 feet down.
No structure was found there, so they started digging at another spot 330 feet away. The new site is marked by a flag of blue plastic.
Hi-tech gear detected some underground sounds on Monday, creating a buzz of excitement and adrenaline among troops, miners and volunteers whose hopes of finding life had all but vanished.
But by yesterday, the buzz was gone again, replaced by a grim workmanlike attitude.