By Jil Danielle M. Caro

KANANGA, Leyte has been placed in a state of calamity on Friday after it was hit by a 6.5-magnitude earthquake on Thursday that killed two and injured 72, the government said.

Six others have been rescued, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) confirmed during a press briefing at around 10:30 a.m. on Friday.

The cities of Ormoc and Kananga suffered from intensity 7, and Jaro and Capoocan from intensity 6. Meanwhile, Palo, Tacloban, Cebu, and Mandaue cities were hit by intensity 5, and intensity 4 was felt in Leyte province cities of Catbalogan, Cabugcayan, Naval, Tolosa, Bato, and Biliran. Intensity 4 was also felt by: Hinunangan, Southern Leyte; Sagay, Negros Occidental; and Burgos, Surigao del Norte.

The two recovered bodies belong to: Mr. Gerry Movilla, 40 years old, who died when a three-storey building in Kananga collapsed; and Ms. Rhissa Rosales, 19, who died after concrete hollow blocks fell on her in Ormoc City. Of the 72 reportedly injured, 43 were from Kananga, 3 from Ormoc, and 26 from Carigara.

Ms. Mina Marasigan, NDRRMC spokesperson also said that there were at least 241 aftershocks as of 5 a.m. yesterday.

The Department of Energy (DOE), for its part, said that it will hasten operations to bring back electricity to affected areas. The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) reported that power was lost in Samar, Bohol, Southern Leyte, and some parts of Northern Leyte as of 9:00 p.m. on Thursday.

The NGCP also confirmed that the Ormoc HVDC (high voltage, direct current) transmission system and the Ormoc Substation have been damaged by the earthquake.

“DOE, through its Power Group, is ensuring tasking and coordination of all efforts among various government agencies, and stakeholders (which include among others, the NGCP, EDC (Energy Development Corporation), ECs thru the NEA (National Electrification Administration)) in assessing, restoring and immediate restoration of power in the affected areas the soonest possible,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said in a press statement.

“As a temporary measure, DOE is also coordinating sourcing-out power supply for use in the affected areas including the deployment of gensets in vital areas like hospitals, water facilities, etc,” he added.

Malacañang, for its part, promised immediate assistance to the victims of the calamity.

Presidential Spokersperson Ernesto C. Abella said in a press statement that: “We ask our people, especially residents of affected areas, to stay calm and yet remain vigilant for aftershocks as we assure them of immediate assistance by the government.”

“We ask our people to regularly check the [PHIVOLCS] (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology) website for latest earthquake information. Updates will be provided as soon as more information becomes available,” Mr. Abella also said.

The government of Leyte is conducting intensive monitoring for possible aftershocks and are extending efforts to respond to all damages and assist all affected by the disaster.