CABANATUAN, PHILIPPINES, JULY 18 -- More bodies were recovered today from the rubble of a ruined college building here and from two collapsed resort hotels in Baguio City, bringing the death toll from Monday's earthquake to 376 confirmed dead and nearly 700 injured.
Government officials and rescue workers said the casualty toll is likely to climb, with at least 170 people still believed trapped inside four Baguio hotels. Late today, rescuers there were concentrating their attention on the Hyatt Terraces Hotel, where 60 people are believed trapped, and the Nevada Inn, where 40 people are said to be trapped.
The rescue effort was still hampered in Baguio, however, as three of the four roads to the town remained blocked by boulders and other debris, and the airport was closed to fixed-wing aircraft because of damage to the runway. Food and gasoline for rescue vehicles were scarce in the city, and the population spent yet a third day without electricity, telephone service or running water.
President Corazon Aquino today flew by helicopter to inspect the devastation in Baguio, a quaint, American-built city that was one of the areas hardest hit by the temblor. Aquino's press secretary, Tomas Gomez III, said 28 buildings and 132 homes were destroyed by the quake, and at least 142 persons were known dead there.
Luzon Island continued to be jolted by powerful aftershocks, the largest, at about 6:30 this morning, registered 6.3 on the Richter scale, according to U.S. Geological Service in Golden, Colo. The aftershocks could be felt as late as 5 p.m. in Manila, where buildings swayed.
Here in this provincial capital, Filipino and U.S. military rescue workers continued to search through the rubble of a collapsed portion of the Christian College of the Philippines, where scores of people, mostly students, were trapped. More than 40 people were believed killed here, and rescuers said they held out little hope of finding more survivors.
Rescuers, volunteers and journalists walked over the concrete shambles wearing surgical masks against the smell of decaying flesh.
"We have not given up hope, not until the last brick is removed," said Col. Ramon Ong, the assistant commander of the Philippine Army's Seventh Infantry Division, based nearby at Fort Magsaysay. "But with every hour that passes, our hope is diminished."
A U.S. Marine doctor assisting with the rescue said that it was unlikely that anyone could still be alive in the rubble after midday Thursday.
Medical officials here warned of the spread of disease because of the unburied bodies at the provincial hospital, at the funeral homes and still under the debris.
"Funeral parlors are still packed with so many dead, and the site is still packed with dead -- they must seal them as soon as possible," said Donato Capule, Jr., a hospital administrator. "There are too many flies! We are asking for some fumigation so we can control these flies," he said. "I am trying to prevent an epidemic."
At the Ilagan Memorial Homes funeral parlor nearby, townpeople crushed inside for a glimpse of four bodies that had been brought there but were still unidentified.
As the dimensions of this tragedy gradually became clearer, more attention focused on the government's rescue efforts, which Filipino reporters at various sites have criticized as badly disorganized.
Television footage of the devastated areas showed Filipino rescuers pulling survivors from the rubble with ropes tied under their arms.
In Baguio, the rescue effort was delayed because cranes were prevented from reaching the area by boulders littering the highway, and Filipino soldiers from the nearby Philippines Military Academy stood by helplessly while relatives of victims pleaded for them to help.
When Rep. Raul Roco, the assistant majority leader of the House of Representatives, begged the soldiers to help him find his wife, trapped inside the fallen Nevada Inn, one cadet told him: "Sir, we want to help you, but what can we do? How can we, with our bare hands?"
A U.S. Air Force engineering team joined the search for survivors in the Baguio wreckage, and U.S. cranes were expected to arrive there once the road is cleared.
Here in Cabanatuan, the capital of Nueva Ecija province and close to the epicenter of Monday's quake, more than 290 U.S. Marine and naval engineers and medics in battle fatigues appeared to be directing the relief effort with heavy cranes and other equipment brought in from Subic Bay Naval Station. The Americans set up a mobile field hospital here, using an old football field for a helicopter landing zone to bring in medical supplies and to ferry the most seriously wounded survivors for treatment at the U.S. base.
The rapid U.S. response and the general disorganization of the Philippine government's rescue efforts are likely to raise new criticism of Aquino once the immediate crisis subsides. The disaster is also likely to pose new questions about whether the Philippines can afford to lose the two large U.S. bases here, whose status is scheduled to come up for negotiation next month.
Filipinos here told stories of bravery on the part of many citizens.
One young man, Junjun Merosa, a 19-year-old market vendor, witnessed the collapse of the Christian College building and immediately raced to the scene to dig out survivors. Rescue workers say the slender Merosa saved five victims by slithering between fallen concrete slabs and dragging survivors out.