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Annan saddened by Philippines landslide disaster; UN sends team

Annan saddened by Philippines landslide disaster; UN sends team

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today offered his condolences to those affected by a landslide in the Philippines that may have buried up to 2000 people, and announced that a UN assessment team is being sent to the region to find out how best to alleviate the suffering.

A statement from Mr. Annan’s spokesman in New York, said that the world body was ready to assist the Philippines Government, and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it was releasing a $50,000 emergency grant to help the UN team in country respond to the disaster.

OCHA said that the landslide, which was caused by heavy rains, hit the village of Guinsaugon on the southern part of the island of Leyte today. Philippine agencies estimated that 200 may be dead and “up to 2,000 may have been buried.”

“In the whole village, only three houses are still standing. The rest of the village, including 300 houses and an elementary school, are completely buried in mud. As many as 251 school children and six teachers are believed to be trapped,” OCHA said.

According to the Philippines Office of Civil Defence, 7 people are currently being treated in hospital. Government search and rescue teams are at the site, but rain is hampering operations.”

OCHA said that the Philippines National Red Cross Society was providing 100 family tents, 300 blankets, five cartons of water purification tablets, and 700 body bags, while the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies had released $152,000 for the victims from its emergency fund.

The UN coordinating office said it was in close contact with the Philippines Office of Civil Defence, the Department of Social Affairs, the UN Country Team and its own regional office in Bangkok.