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Housing Collapse Victims Mourned

August 17, 1999

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Relatives held a quiet memorial service Tuesday after rescuers ended a two-week search for victims from the collapse of a Philippine housing complex. One man remained missing and 58 others were confirmed dead.

Relatives and government officials lit candles for each of the victims at a memorial mound built from the rubble of the 15-acre Cherry Hills community, which was toppled by a landslide Aug. 3 after monsoon rains.

The service was also a Mass to thank the more than 1,000 rescue workers and volunteers who helped locate the victims.

A small group of soldiers will stay at the site to continue searching for the missing person, Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado said. ``We’ll do everything to find him,″ he said.

The government special anti-graft prosecutor on Tuesday recommended a criminal investigation of 28 people linked to the tragedy, including Hiroshi Ogawa, the Japanese general manager of the housing developer, Philjas Corp.

The investigation is to cover 58 possible counts of criminal negligence and 11 counts of graft, including charges that Ogawa and Philjas president Tirso Santillan conspired with government officials to improperly obtain building permits, Ombudsman Aniano Desierto said.

A geologist hired by Philjas, Joel Muyco, confirmed earlier reports that the bedrock had cracked under the hillside housing development.

Water entered the bedrock through fractures during heavy rains, causing the ground to shift, Muyco said.

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