February 17, 2006
200 Dead, 1500 Missing in Philippine LandslideTragic:
TACLOBAN, Philippines (AFP) - About 200 people were believed killed and 1,500 were missing in the central Philippines, when an entire village was buried in a landslide, the head of the Red Cross said.The Philippines is in Asia's typhoon (tropical hurricane) belt and gets hit by them several times a year. Much destruction and flooding often result, which is aggravated by the denuded forest and grasslands.
Tacloban is the capital of Leyte, one of the major islands in the middle region of the Philippines. It is best known as the hometown of Asia's Iron Butterfly herself, Imelda Marcos.
This tragedy is the latest to hit the impoverished nation after a stampede which claimed the lives of at least 80 people, mostly women and children and mostly poor, trying to participate in a variety show giving away cash and prizes. Many saw it as proof of the country's desperate economic situation for which, rightly or wrongly, the administration of Gloria Arroyo is being blamed.
Arroyo is still besieged by the opposition party to resign because of alleged election irregularities. This latest crisis would only add to her many challenges. The only silver lining is the possible truce the government will sign with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) this year.
The MILF is a militant Islamic group advocating secession of Mindanao island from the Philippines. It fought with the mujahideen in Afghanistan against Russian occupation, with the blessing of the United States. Currently, the MILF is suspected of training members of Jema'ah Islamiah, the group responsible for the Bali bombings but the MILF denies this.
Even with the truce, Arroyo's problems aren't over. There is still the Abu Sayyaf, a breakaway rebel group and the New People's Army (NPA) which is the Communist Party of the Philippines.
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