U.S. Marines use 2-ton drill in search for survivors in Philippines

U.S. Marines brought in a two-ton drill Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to find an elementary school buried by a devastating landslide where up to 300 children and teachers are thought to have been trapped.

The drill is capable of digging 60 meters (180 feet) deep to clear rocks and debris, and the school is believed to have been buried by up to 35 meters (100 feet) of mud and rock.

Officials initially resisted using heavy equipment at the site, fearing the vibrations might cause the unstable mud to shift and suffocate anyone still alive under the muck.

But with five days passing since the last survivor was rescued, shovels have proved inadequate, with the holes that have been dug often collapsing. A backhoe and other heavy earth-moving machinery have been plying the 40-hectare (100-acre) mud field for two days now.

A U.S. CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter airlifted the drill to the suspected site of the school.

Search efforts have been made all the more difficult because all of the identifiable landmarks were obliterated when a mountainside collapsed Friday, burying the town of Guinsaugon on Leyte island.

A Philippine mining engineer, Melchor Taclobao, said searchers on Tuesday had abandoned the spot where they were initially digging after hitting ground, about 20 meters (66 feet) down.

No structure was found, he said, so they started digging at another spot 100 meters (330 feet) away, reports the AP.

brought in a two-ton drill Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to find an elementary school buried by a devastating landslide where up to 300 children and teachers are thought to have been trapped.

The drill is capable of digging 60 meters (180 feet) deep to clear rocks and debris, and the school is believed to have been buried by up to 35 meters (100 feet) of mud and rock.

Officials initially resisted using heavy equipment at the site, fearing the vibrations might cause the unstable mud to shift and suffocate anyone still alive under the muck.

But with five days passing since the last survivor was rescued, shovels have proved inadequate, with the holes that have been dug often collapsing. A backhoe and other heavy earth-moving machinery have been plying the 40-hectare (100-acre) mud field for two days now.

A U.S. CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter airlifted the drill to the suspected site of the school.

Search efforts have been made all the more difficult because all of the identifiable landmarks were obliterated when a mountainside collapsed Friday, burying the town of Guinsaugon on Leyte island.

A Philippine mining engineer, Melchor Taclobao, said searchers on Tuesday had abandoned the spot where they were initially digging after hitting ground, about 20 meters (66 feet) down.

No structure was found, he said, so they started digging at another spot 100 meters (330 feet) away, reports the AP.

I.L.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team