PH mulls deployment of humanitarian contingent to quake-hit Morocco

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Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Administrator Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno (File photo)

The Philippine government is eyeing to deploy a humanitarian contingent to Morocco following a magnitude 6.8 earthquake that hit its High Atlas Mountains.

Office of Civil Defense Administration (OCD) Administrator Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno said they were already making arrangements for the possible sending of the Philippine Inter-Agency Humanitarian Contingent (PIAHC) to Morocco as soon as possible.

“We are deeply saddened by the aftermath of the earthquake that hit Morocco. We want to assure Morocco that the Philippines is more than willing to extend assistance to support the ongoing response operations. We are organizing a humanitarian contingent for possible deployment,” Nepomuceno said.

According to Nepomuceno, the team will be comprised of personnel from the OCD, Philippine Army’s 525th Engineering Combat Battalion, Philippine Air Force’s 505th Search and Rescue Group, Bureau of Fire Protection’s Special Rescue Unit, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Davao Rescue 911, and Department of Health.

The team has capabilities in conducting search, rescue, and retrieval operations, as well as emergency medical procedures.

Meanwhile, the OCD administrator called on the public to actively take part in earthquake resilience endeavors locally to increase the collective preparedness of Filipinos for similar situations.

“What happened to Morocco recently is a reminder to all of us to continuously prepare against the threat of earthquakes, especially the big ones,” Nepomuceno said.

“It is terrifying that in just seconds, an earthquake could claim many lives and leave massive destruction. Through the whole-of-government and whole-of-nation approach, we should strengthen our prevention, mitigation, and preparedness measures against earthquakes,” he continued.

On Sept. 8, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck Morocco's High Atlas Mountains, leaving at least 2,946 people dead and 5,674 others injured as of Sept. 9, according to the official government website of Morocco.

Nepomuceno believes that the Philippine contingent would be able to help the government of Morocco as search, rescue and retrieval operations were ongoing in the affected areas amid fears that the death toll will rise.

He said the PIAHC has already an experience on such response.

An 82-member PIAHC was sent to Turkiye in February this year to assist in the humanitarian and disaster relief operations after Turkiye and Syria were rocked by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that left 50,288 people dead and 125,857 others injured.