Marines deny survivors have been pulled from mudslide school

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The Independent Online

Hopes were dashed today after reports that a large group of survivors has been found in the ruins of the primary school buried in the Philippines mudslide.

An interior ministry official, Marius Corpus, said that US Marines had recovered about 50 people from under the rubble in Guinsaugon village - three days after it was buried.

But US Marine Capt. Burrell Parmer said he had spoken to the commander of US forces digging at the site, adding: "They have yet to receive any word on any type of survivors. I asked for specifics, and I asked had they received or found any type of survivors, and the answer was no."

Nevertheless both US and Malaysian officials said today that high-tech equipment has detected sounds at the site, although it was unclear whether the sounds were made by survivors or as a result of the soft, unstable mud covering the school shifting and settling.

Search teams had been combing the area with sniffer dogs, and shouted and banged stones against boulders in the hope that survivors would hear.

The entire village of Guinsaugon was buried when the neighbouring mountain collapsed on Friday after two weeks of heavy rain. Only 72 bodies have been found but more than 1,800 people are still missing and feared dead beneath the mud.

Hopes had been raised that some of the 253 children and teachers who were inside the school might be alive after unconfirmed rumours that some had sent text messages to their loved ones begging for help.