PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Sunday visited Batanes province, where a series of earthquakes early Saturday killed at least eight people and hurt about 60 more, according to the state-run People’s Television Network.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles said the government had started mobilizing resources to help the victims in Itbayat town.
“The government’s priority now is to ensure that those injured in the earthquake, as well as the families displaced by it, are given adequate medical care,” he said.
A total of 180 aftershocks ranging from a magnitude of 2.2 to 5.9 have been recorded after a series of earthquakes struck the town, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
In an 8 a.m. report on Sunday, the agency said 26 of the aftershocks had been plotted, while 11 were felt after the temblors. NDRRMC said 911 families or 2,963 persons were affected by the quake incident in five villages in Itbayat.
The quakes damaged 15 houses, two schools, and two health facilities, according to the report.
“Given the state of structures on the island and the possible damage that can be caused by aftershocks, hundreds of families have been advised not to return to their homes in the meantime,” Mr. Nograles said.
“The Palace offers its deep condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones during the earthquakes that hit Batanes,” presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said in a separate statement.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has P1.97 billion of standby and stockpile funds, it said in a separate statement. The DSWD said it had prepared 3,600 food packs in Basco, Batanes and 200 at the Cagayan Valley Region Field Office for immediate distribution, and the field office has P700,000 in additional funds.
The town was first rocked by a tremor with a magnitude of 5.4 at 4:16 am on Saturday, followed by a stronger quake measuring 5.9 at 7:37 am. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras