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Filipinos grieve as earthquake death toll rises

Dennis M. Sabangan / EPA

Filipinos drive past a damaged national highway after a 6.9-magnitude earthquake in Guihulngan Town, province of Negros Oriental, Central Philippines, on Feb. 7. At least 22 people were dead and many more missing after an earthquake triggered landslides and collapsed houses in the central Philippines, an army commander said.

Erik De Castro / Reuters

Family members of a villager who died in a landslide caused by an earthquake grieve in La Libertad, Negros Oriental in central Philippines on Feb. 7. Philippine rescuers searched on Tuesday for 29 residents of a mountainside community feared dead after a landslide triggered by an earthquake engulfed their homes.

AP reports:

Dozens of people were still missing Tuesday following a strong earthquake that triggered landslides and damaged buildings and roads on a central Philippine island. The death toll reached 22, but officials said it was likely to rise further as rescuers struggle to reach remote areas.

Adrian Sedillo, a disaster council officer in Negros Oriental province, said the death toll was likely to rise. There were reports of at least 14 more deaths, but the number will be added to the official count only after authorities verify that the bodies have been recovered, he said.

One of the dead not yet included in the count was a young woman whose body was dug out of a landslide in the mountain village of Solongon in La Libertad town. An unknown number of people were trapped there when a part of the mountain collapsed on about 100 houses.

Manila's ABS-CBN television showed footage of the woman's parents wailing at the landslide site after her body was retrieved late Tuesday by soldiers using shovels. The report said the woman had managed to send a text message to her relatives hours earlier telling them she was still alive and pleading for rescuers to hurry.

"We have no water and power because electric posts were toppled," Guihulngan Mayor Ernesto Reyes told The Associated Press by phone. "Many of our roads were damaged, including bridges, and stores are closed. We're isolated."

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Dennis M. Sabangan / EPA

Filipinos view their houses damaged by a landslide a day after a 6.9-magnitude earthquake in La Libertad town, province of Negros Oriental, Central Philippines, on Feb. 7.

Dennis M. Sabangan / EPA

Filipinos carry the coffin of their relative who was killed during a 6.9-magnitude earthquake in Tayasan Town, province of Negros Oriental, Central Philippines, on Feb. 7.