Toll in Philippines earthquake climbs to 56

Rescuers digging for survivors among dozens of people buried by earthquake-triggered landslides have found only bodies.

Manila: Rescuers assisted by armed forces
scrambled to find survivors in quake-hit central Philippines
on Tuesday but a series of powerful aftershocks hampered them, as
President Ninoy Aquino appealed for calm, a day after a 6.8
temblor shook the country killing at least 56 people.

Aquino will spend his birthday tomorrow in Dumaguete
City, comforting the population of the severely affected
areas and in support of the rescue and support officials.

Army officials put the death toll at 56 while
another 92 people were reported missing as the nation`s
military scrambled 1,000 government troops to deal with the
disaster, according to ABS-CBN news reports.

As many as 1005 aftershocks were recorded by the
Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology till
afternoon today as rescue workers struggled to find dozens of
missing people in the densely-populated region that was shaken
yesterday. Aftershocks and resultant landslides made several
mountainous roads impassable in the Negros, the third-largest
island in the Philippines.

Philippines Armed Forces and Navy joined the police force
in undertaking evacuation, search and rescue operations, an
official statement said today.

Aquino appealed to the quake-affected Central Visayas
population to remain calm and cooperate with the authorities
as they strive to bring normalcy to the areas. The quake had
struck about 70 kilometers from the coastal city of Dumaguete.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Aquino
continues to appeal for citizens to cooperate with the
authorities, and to keep in mind that public safety
must be kept the highest priority.