INFRASTRUCTURE damage from Wednesday’s magnitude 7 earthquake that rocked the northwestern part of the Philippines’ main island of Luzon has hit P33.8 million, according to the local disaster agency.

“The estimated cost of damage to infrastructure of P33.8 million was incurred in Region 1 (Ilocos), Region 3 (Central Luzon) and National Capital Region,” the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said in a 6 a.m. bulletin on Thursday.

Power in 36 of 37 towns that experienced brownouts had been restored, according to the report.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said it was working double time to reopen the remaining four closed roads in quake-hit Northern Luzon.

Seventeen of 21 road sections affected by the earthquake had been reopened to traffic, Public Works Secretary Manuel M. Bonoan said in a separate statement.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture said road closures in Benguet and Mountain Province was unlikely to cause significant delays in the delivery of agri-fishery goods to Metro Manila.

“To date, there are no reported damage and losses yet in the agriculture and fisheries commodities and infrastructure that could hamper the food supply system,” it said in a bulletin.

Wednesday’s quake damaged several bell towers, churches and heritage houses as well as cars and other properties in northern Philippines.

The quake’s tremors were also felt in the capital Manila and nearby areas, forcing workers to evacuate buildings and halting train operations.

The Philippines’ seismological agency said it had recorded more than 800 aftershocks almost 24 hours after the temblor rocked Abra province, where the epicenter was located.

More than 20,000 people from 4,000 families in the Ilocos Region and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) were affected by the quake, Defense department officer-in-charge Jose Faustino, Jr. told a briefing led by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. in Abra.

He said more than 2,000 families remained in evacuation centers as of Thursday morning. “Inside 31 evacuation centers, there were 2,312 families from Regions I and CAR,” he said.

“We have a total of 4,969 families or 20,000 persons more or less that were affected in 110 barangays in Region I and CAR, Social Welfare Secretary Erwin T. Tulfo said at the same briefing. More than 300 houses were damaged.

He said 1,657 people from 413 families were staying in temporary shelters outside evacuation centers.

At least 35 schools were damaged, the Department of Education said, citing initial reports. Eleven of these were in Central Luzon, nine in Cagayan Valley, eight in CAR and seven in Ilocos. It estimated the cost of the damage at almost P230 million.

The agency said 8,027 schools were also affected by the quake.

At the briefing, Mr. Marcos ordered authorities to prioritize the restoration of electricity and communication lines in affected areas.

He said electricity and communication are needed for the government’s relief efforts. He also cited the need for sufficient water supply. — KATA and ALB