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Batanes quake: Nearly 3,000 in shelters

By: Michael Punongbayan
The Philippine Star

A home in Itbayat, Batanes lies in ruins following Saturday’s earthquakes. Image courtesy of the Batanes provincial police.

MANILA, Philippines — Close to 3,000 people or 911 families were affected by Saturday’s twin earthquakes that rocked Batanes, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported.

As of yesterday, there were eight dead, one missing and 63 injured. The injured were brought to the Itbayat District Hospital. Officials identified the missing as Edward Ponce.

The NDRRMC said the 2,963 individuals displaced by the twin quakes are temporarily sheltered in a public market in Barangay San Rafael, Itbayat where they are receiving relief goods and other assistance.

Officials said around 180 aftershocks were recorded after the two strong earthquakes that damaged houses, schools, health facilities and other structures.

NDRRMC spokesman Mark Timbal gave assurance there is no humanitarian crisis developing.

He said the delivery and distribution of relief items is smooth, notwithstanding a few discomforts for those who had to spend the night outside their destroyed houses.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) went on alert and assured immediate assistance to the local government of Itbayat to address the needs of families and individuals affected by the quakes.

The regional DSWD, through Social Welfare and Development (SWAD) of Batanes, is facilitating the financial assistance to bereaved families.

The SWAD is also distributing 1,000 tents and sleeping kits to the affected families.

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) is helping provide medical evacuation to injured residents.

Two teams of the PAF’s Disaster Response Task Units flew to Itbayat to augment the search and rescue operations of the police, military and Coast Guard personnel. The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) and the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Northern Luzon (OPANL) also pitched in the relief effort by deploying a C130 plane loaded with at least 3,000 packs of relief goods.

The national government vowed to provide P40 million to build a new health facility in Batanes.

President Duterte also ordered agencies to ensure that affected communities would have enough food and other relief items.

Duterte said disaster management officials should ensure that their supply line is working so communities affected by the earthquake would continuously receive assistance.

“Just make sure that your supply line is working and that nobody gets hungry. When people see the government supplies, it raises hope from so much distress,” the President said yesterday during a briefing on the situation of earthquake-hit areas at Basco Airport.

During the briefing, Duterte talked about a hospital damaged by the earthquake that hit the province last weekend. About P40 million is needed to repair the health facility, based on estimates by the public works department.

“Has the contractor repaired it? Where is the contractor? Kill him. That contractor is disrespectful. Anyway, I’ll be giving you P40 million,” Duterte said.

The President said he was not keen on repairing the hospital because it would be “too expensive and you are not sure of its durability or viability.”

“I’ll give you P40 million. I hope you will put it to good use, small clinic or hospital… You would need a transportation that is faster,” he added.

Duterte also assured local officials that the government has a lot of relief items and food packs on standby. Officials said the government could provide P30,000 assistance for each house that is totally damaged and P20,000 for each partially damaged house.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte was satisfied with the response to the Batanes quake.

“Yes, we were ready and government agencies prepared for that. Even if we experienced a disaster, the government has a ready response,” Panelo said in a radio interview.

Panelo said the government is ready to support the rehabilitation efforts in the province.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said government health resources have been mobilized to assist the quake victims especially the residents of Itbayat town.

While the Itbayat District Hospital suffered minimal cracks, it was still fully functional and would be able to attend to the individuals who need medical assistance, Nograles said. – With Alexis Romero


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