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4 survivors dug out from Philippines rubble

At least four survivors have been pulled from a building that collapsed in mudslides 10 days ago, while the death toll from storms in the Philippines rose to at least 842, with hundreds of others missing.
A survivor is carried on a stretcher by rescuers after being pulled out of a buried building in Real, Philippines, on Thursday. Pat Roque / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

At least four survivors were pulled Thursday from a building that collapsed in mudslides 10 days ago, while the death toll from devastating storms in the Philippines’ northeast rose to at least 842, with more than 750 people missing.

The four survived by drinking “any kind of liquid that dripped” from the rubble that entrapped them, said Maria Tamares, 49, who was rescued along with her 3-year-old granddaughter and two teenage boys in Real, about 40 miles east of Manila.

Covered with blankets and lying on makeshift stretchers, they were flown in a military helicopter to a hospital in nearby Lucena city.

As rescue crews continued to pick their way through debris, the Office of Civil Defense raised the number of confirmed deaths from the storms by 102 to 842. It said 751 people were still missing.

Tamares and the others apparently had been trapped in the kitchen of the two-story resort building, which was buried under piles of mud on Nov. 29, when the worst of two back-to-back storms that battered the region hit, witnesses said.

About 40 miners volunteering in the search heard voices in the rubble of the building and used sledgehammers, torches, hacksaws and bolt cutters to punch a hole through the thick concrete roof to reach the survivors.

Col. Pablo Amisola, spokesman for the military’s Southern Luzon Command, said soldiers had recovered the remains of about 10 people from the same building on Wednesday.

In Manila, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo thanked the soldiers and volunteers.

“They’ve been able to rescue some of them, so I’d like to thank God for that miracle and they are continuing to dig deeper to see if they can rescue any more,” she said.

In nearby Infanta town, two U.S. military helicopters delivered relief supplies and picked up evacuees.