Residents in Philippines to be resettled because of landslide fears

Residents in at least five villages in a central Philippine province will be resettled because of fears of more landslides like the Feb. 17 disaster that buried alive 1,000 people, an official said Tuesday.

Southern Leyte governor Rosette Lerias said geologists have surveyed 11 villages that were evacuated after part of a mountain collapsed and engulfed the farming village of Guinsaugon, killing 1,000 residents.

"Of the 11 villages, five have to be relocated. The technical assessment shows that water has creeped into the soil in some areas... and this could possibly trigger more landslides," Lerias said in a telephone interview. "Two of the villages are also unsafe because they rest on top of old landslide deposits."

Officials are still compiling the number of residents who will have to move. The provincial government is already preparing to build temporary barracks for some 600 villagers from Guinsaugon who are staying in schools that were converted into evacuation centers.

Officials said 140 bodies have been recovered and 972 people were still missing and feared dead in the Guinsaugon landslide.

Thousands of people have already been evacuated from other villages. Lerias said evacuees who return to their villages will be trained to recognize signs of an impending landslide. They will be taught to use a simple device to measure rainfall and to evacuate if the gauge exceeds a certain level.

She said Leyte, a mountainous island southeast of Manila, lies on unstable ground straddling the Philippine Fault, which zigzags from the north to the south of the country.

"It is impossible to relocate everyone. This is a lesson for us but a lesson to which we have no permanent solutions," Lerias added, reports the AP.

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