Two days after a powerful magnitude seven earthquake rattled Abra and nearby areas in Northern Luzon, the death toll rose to six as the government continued its search, rescue and retrieval operations while also conducting relief efforts to feed thousands of affected people, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported Friday, July 29.
NDRRMC spokesperson Mark Timbal said five of the fatalities – all recorded in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) – have already been confirmed. Most of them died after being hit by fallen debris.
In Benguet, two people died in the municipalities of La Trinidad and Tuba and they were identified as Aron Cul-iteng, 25, and Resty Tabas, 31, respectively. They perished after being hit by fallen house debris.
In Bangued, Abra, Jonalyn Sigganay, 23, died of hemorrhage after also being hit by fallen debris at the height of the quake.
In Balbalan, Kalinga, Jefferson Basar, 24, was buried alive due to a rock fall.
In Bauko, Mt. Province, Andres Sagayo, 59, died at the hospital after being victimized by a landslide.
Another fatality was also rerported in Ilocos Sur in Region 1 although the details of the case were still being validated by the NDRRMC.
Meanwhile, the fatality earlier reported by the NDRRMC in Gattaran, Cagayan Valley in Region 2 was removed from the tally after it was confirmed that no such incident was recorded by the local authorities.
There were also 116 persons who were hurt during the quake and four others who went missing in CAR.
Timbal also disclosed that the damage to infrastructure was pegged at P48.3 million in CAR and Region 1. This includes a total of 1,583 houses that were destroyed or damaged by the earthquake in CAR.
However, Timbal said that the estimates of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) could go as high as P104 million for damaged national roads and an additional P292 million for damaged bridges.
Meanwhile, the agricultural damage incurred due to the quake has reached P3.88 million in the Cordillera region alone.
Although no dam was significantly damaged in CAR, Regions 1 and 2, the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) reported that an irrigation facility in CAR was destroyed which costs P4.5 million.
Relief operations were ongoing in the affected areas, particularly in CAR where 7,331 individuals were temporarily sheltered in 26 evacuation centers.
“Our countrymen have nothing to worry about because our response efforts are continuous. Our local government units are on the scene and they are supplying everything that they need: food, water, and non-food items,” Timbal said.
“The Food and Non-food Items Cluster of the NDRRMC has a standby fund of P323 million which includes P247 million in quick response funds which may be disbursd to support the operations of LGUs. We also have a standby fund of P1 billion for food and non-food items that are ready for distribution,” he added.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as well as other concerned government agencies have also deployed additional personnel to help in the distribution of relief items.
Around 200 troops and reservists under the 14th Regional Community Defense Group (14RCDG) of the Reserve Command, Philippine Army were deployed to haul aid for families affected by the destructive quake in Abra.
The troops and reservists worked with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to repack relief supplies that were distributed to families in quake-stricken communities in Zone 7, Bangued, Abra.
The Philippine Air Force also deployed multiple aircraft such as S70i Blackhawk, PZL W-3A SOKOL, Super Huey, Huey 2, and UH-1H helicopters to transport relief items in the isolated municipalities of Boliney, Bucloc, Daguioman, Luba, Tubo, Malibcong, and Lacub in Abra.
Meanwhile, Col. Medel Aguilar, acting AFP spokesperson, advised troops to remain vigilant against possible attacks from communist rebels while they deliver aid to quake-hit areas.
“As we all know, our troops were immediately mobilized to shift from internal security to humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that jolted Northern Luzon. Our HADR troops will be ready to defend themselves from any hostile act,” he said.