Mudslide Victims Buried In Mass Grave

Filipino volunteers are carried across a swollen river as they arrive to help search for bodies in the landslide, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2006, in Guinsaugon village in Leyte, southeast of Manila, Philippines. A total of 72 bodies have been recovered so far, but officials are estimating those who perished in Friday's landslide to be over 1,500 including over 200 school children. (AP Photo/Wally Santana) AP

Standing in a light drizzle, the handful of mourners didn't know any of the 30 people laid side by side in a mass grave Sunday as workers began burying the few victims recovered since a mammoth mudslide wiped out this farming village.

Anyone who could have identified the bodies was likely under a carpet of muck up to 30 feet deep, and hopes all but evaporated that more survivors would be found.

Only about two dozen battered, dazed people have been rescued from the debris left by Friday's disaster, which left some 1,800 people missing and presumed dead.

Weary search teams found more than a dozen bodies Sunday, raising the number of confirmed deaths to 72. With no one left to claim the dead and bodies quickly starting to decompose in the tropical heat, officials ordered them buried in mass graves.

At a cemetery five miles from Guinsaugon, a Roman Catholic priest sprinkled holy water on 30 bodies, some wrapped in bags, others in cheap wooden coffins, then said a prayer through a mask worn to filter out the stench.

Volunteers lowered the bodies to men who placed them side by side at the bottom of the grave.

The only witnesses were local health officials, the provincial governor, some of her staff and a few nearby residents. Some evacuees from the landslide watched from the window of a nearby Catholic school.

Twenty more bodies were to be buried there Monday.

In the capital, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said Sunday that "all the efforts of our government continue and will not stop while there is hope to find survivors." But those hopes faded each hour as no more survivors were found for a second straight day.

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