Thu, Apr 19, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Body of US Peace Corps worker found in shallow grave

AFP , MANILA

The body of a missing US Peace Corps worker was found partially buried in a shallow grave in the northern Philippines yesterday, the military said.

Julia Campbell, 40, had disappeared on Easter Sunday while hiking a mountain trail, and the US had earlier offered a US$10,000 reward for information to help find her.

Campbell's body was discovered with her feet protruding from the ground in the northern village of Batad, a picturesque hamlet fringed with terraced mountainsides planted with rice.

No cause of death was announced. Police had earlier ruled out that the Quantico, Virginia native, who had worked in the Philippines for two years and spoke the local language, had been kidnapped by communist guerrillas.

"It's a mountainous area. The body that was found was buried in a shallow grave and some parts of the body are jutting out so they were able to find it," Philippine army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jose Torres told reporters.

"Although they believe that the body is that of Julia Campbell, let us wait for the forensics people to declare that the body is indeed that of Julia Campbell," Torres said.

Major General Rodolfo Maclang earlier announced that Campbell had been found in Batad. The US embassy said it was still trying to confirm the details.

A team of 80 rescuers using tracker dogs and helicopters had been searching for the English teacher, one of 137 Peace Corps volunteers working in the Philippines.

She was last seen late afternoon hiking on a trail leading to Batad after she was driven to the trailhead. She also spoke to a couple of locals and bought a soft drink from a store along the way.

A former journalist, Campbell had been working as a teacher at a college in eastern Legaspi city.

The mountainous northern region is home to the Banawe rice terraces, a world-famous tourist spot. While communist rebels once plagued the area, the crime rate has remained low and attacks on foreigners are isolated.

In 2002, a German diplomat and his wife were taken by gunmen from the area, and robbed of their belongings and money before they were released unharmed.

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