Home > News > Regional
Wednesday October 16, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday October 16, 2013 MYT 1:48:52 PM
Disaster zone: Filipino soldiers viewing damaged cars beneath rubble outside a building in Cebu City following a 7.1-magnitude earthquake that struck the city. — EPA
Loon (Philippines) (AFP) - Rescue workers raced Wednesday to reach isolated communities on a popular Philippine tourist island that was devastated by a huge earthquake, as aftershocks tormented survivors and the death toll climbed to 107.
The 7.1-magnitude earthquake smashed the central island of Bohol on Tuesday morning, triggering landslides that engulfed entridges and tearing down centuries-old churcheire homes, ripping apart bs.
The national disaster agency said the number of people confirmed killed on Bohol and neighbouring islands had climbed from 93 to 107, and more bad news was expected as rescue workers were yet to reach some villages and towns.
"Our efforts today are focused on reaching isolated areas. We suspect individuals are trapped out there and we have to conduct search and rescue," National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council spokesman Reynaldo Balido told AFP.
With destroyed bridges, ripped-open roads and power outages fragmenting the island of about one million people, Balido said authorities were struggling to reach isolated communities and had no idea how bad the damage was in some areas.
"We don't even have an estimate... we are just assuming that since there were collapsed buildings, we must search for them," Balido said, when asked how many people remained missing.
At Loon, a small coastal town of about 40,000 people just 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the epicentre of the earthquake, shocked survivors wandered around the rubble of collapsed buildings looking for relatives.
Farmer Serafin Megallen said he dug with his hands, brick-by-brick, to retrieve his mother-in-law and cousin from the rubble of their home on Tuesday.
"They were alive but they died of their injuries three hours later. There was no rescue that came, we had to rely on neighbours for help," he told AFP.
Megallen said a neighbour with a truck tried to drive the bodies to Loon's funeral parlour, only to find out the bridge across a river on the way was destroyed.
The bodies were then taken across the river aboard a boat.
"But no one will give them last rites because the church was also destroyed," he said.
Ten churches, many of them dating back centuries to Spanish colonial rule of the Philippines, were destroyed or badly damaged on Bohol and the neighbouring island of Cebu.
Loon's limestone Our Lady of Light church was reduced to mounds of crushed rocks.
'Nothing much we can do'
In front of the rubble an improvised altar had been erected with a lone statue of the Virgin Mary, where teary residents stopped by to make the sign of the cross.
"We're trying our best to keep hopes up, but in this desperate situation there is nothing much we can do beyond giving comforting words," local priest Father Tomas Balakayo told AFP.
"I try to be strong but this is terrible, what have these people done to deserve this?"
Meanwhile, the only people involved in the search and rescue efforts on Wednesday morning at Loon were residents and local police, who themselves had lost their homes or relatives.
They struggled as aftershocks continued to rattle the area. More than 800 aftershocks had been recorded, including one on Wednesday morning with a magnitude of 5.1, according to national disaster authorities.
Most of the confirmed deaths were on Bohol, which is one of the most popular tourist islands in the Philippines because of its beautiful beaches, rolling "Chocolate Hills" and tiny "tarsier" primates.
Nine people died on neighbouring Cebu island, home to the Philippines' second-biggest city of the same name.
No foreign tourists were reported killed.
The Philippines lies on the so-called Ring of Fire, a vast Pacific Ocean region where many of Earth's earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.
The deadliest recorded natural disaster in the Philippines occurred in 1976, when a tsunami triggered by a 7.9-magnitude earthquake devastated the Moro Gulf on the southern island of Mindanao.
Between 5,000 and 8,000 people were killed, according to official estimates.
Philippine quake death toll reaches 99
MANILA, Oct 16, 2013 (AFP) - The death toll from a powerful earthquake that struck the central Philippines rose to 99 on Wednesday and would likely climb further as rescuers reached isolated areas, authorities said.
A 7.1-magnitude quake struck the island of Bohol on Tuesday morning, destroying centuries-old churches and triggering landslides that engulfed homes alongside coastal highways.
The confirmed death toll rose from 93 on Tuesday night to 99 as authorities gained a clearer picture of the destruction, the civil defence chief for the central islands, Minda Morante, told AFP.
"We expect the number to increase considering there are still areas that need search and rescue (personnel) and there are areas where they need more aid," she said.
Bohol and the neighbouring island of Cebu, which are both popular tourist attractions because of their pristine beaches and historic churches, bore the brunt of the quake. Most of the confirmed casualties were on Bohol.
93 dead as quake hits Philippines
CEBU: A powerful earthquake killed at least 93 people in the Philippines as it generated landslides that buried homes, triggered terrified stampedes and destroyed historic churches.
Fifteen of the confirmed fatalities were in Cebu, the country’s second most important city and a gateway to some of its most beautiful beaches, the national disaster agency reported.
The 7.1-magnitude quake killed another 77 people in the neighbouring island of Bohol, famed for its rolling “Chocolate Hills”, while one other person died on nearby Siquijor, which attracts tourists with its pristine white sands.
“I was thrown to the ground by the strength of the quake. Broken glass rained on me,” Elmo Alinsunorin, who was on duty as a guard for a government tax office in Cebu, said.
“I thought I was going to die.”
Authorities said the death toll could still climb, with officials struggling to assess the extent of the damage in the worst-hit areas of Bohol where roads remained impassable and power was cut at nightfall.
Bohol police chief Senior Superintendent Dennis Agustin said one of the worst affected areas was the coastal town of Loon, where at least 18 people were killed by landslides that buried houses along large stretches of highway.
Loon is about 20km from where the epicentre of the quake struck at just after 8am. It faces a narrow strait of water, with Cebu about 25km away on the other side.
Cebu, with a population of 2.5 million people, is the political, economic, educational and cultural centre of the central Philippines.
It hosts the country’s busiest port and the largest airport outside of the capital of Manila, which is about 600 kilometres to the north.
A university, a school, shopping malls, public markets and many small buildings in Cebu sustained damage in the quake.
Three of the people who died in Cebu were crushed to death in a stampede at a sports complex, according to the provincial disaster council chief, Neil Sanchez.
“There was panic when the quake happened and there was a rush toward the exit,” said Sanchez.
He said two other people were killed when part of a school collapsed on a car they had parked in, while four others died at a fish market that crumbled.
Ten churches, some of which have crucial links to the earliest moments of Spanish colonial and Catholic conquest in the 1500s, were also badly damaged on Cebu and Bohol.
The limestone bell tower of the Philippines’ oldest church, Cebu’s Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, was in ruins.
Other limestone churches that were built in the 1700s and 1800s on Bohol had crumbled completely, prompting grieving for the loss of some of the Philippines’ most important cultural treasures.
“It is like part of the body of our country has been destroyed,” said Michael Charleston “Xiao” Chua, a history lecturer at De La Salle University in Manila.
Aside from its beaches, Bohol is famous for its more than 1,000 small limestone “Chocolate Hills” that turn brown during the dry season.
There were no reports of foreign tourists being killed anywhere in the disaster zone.
Yesterday’s quake was followed by hundreds of aftershocks, at least four aftershocks of which measured more than 5.0 in magnitude. — AFP
Tags / Keywords:
Copyright © 1995-2013 Star Publications (M) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)