Sleep outdoors tonight, residents advised

David Yu Santos
Local authorities still fear more aftershocks

CAMP OUT. For fear of risking lives and limbs, residents of quake-hit areas in Negros Oriental are urged to stay and sleep outdoors.

MANILA, Philippines – Thousands of residents of Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental will be sleeping outside their homes on Tuesday night, as strong aftershocks continue to hound the coastal city.

Mayor Ernesto Reyes told Rappler that he has ordered village officials of Poblacion and Planas to ensure that their residents do not return to their homes.

Many of them may have no protection over their heads as they spend the evening,” Reyes said. “But I’d rather risk that they, say, get wet in the rain than having debris falling on their heads.”

The Philippine Institute of Seismology and Volcanology (Phivolcs) has recorded more than 1,000 aftershocks since the 6.9-magnitude quake hit the Visayas region and parts of Mindanao before noon of Monday, February 6.

According to Reyes, “8,000 to 10,000” residents from affected areas such as Barangay Poblacion will be “staying outdoors” for the meantime, including in the city’s sports field. Even patients in local hospitals have been moved out of the buildings.

UNSAFE. Local officials told residents to refrain from returning to their homes as strong aftershocks may rock structures and pose more danger.

DESTROYED. Even houses and structures made of light materials were not spared from the havoc wrought by Monday's 6.9-magnitude earthquake.

As of Tuesday, the Guihulngan City government reported their death toll at 28, with 29 others as missing, believed to have been buried in a landslide incident in Barangay Planas.

A little over 100 people were listed as wounded and were brought to different hospitals in Negros Oriental, and adjacent cities of Cebu and Bacolod.

Palace assures aid

Reyes reiterated his appeal for supply of food, water and medicines for Guihulngan.

In Malacañang, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte gave assurances that concerned government agencies are already in the area to carry out presidential directives on relief and rehabilitation efforts.

The President is deeply concerned about our countrymen in the affected areas. He is focused on ensuring that services resumed at the soonest possible time. He appeals to everyone to remain calm and to cooperate with the authorities as they work to bring these back to normality,” Valte said.

The National Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) has been instructed by the Palace to conduct Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis (DANA) with the local government units in the affected areas.

The President also ordered concerned agencies “to activate their response teams to aid the victims,” Valte said, adding that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) quick response teams are ready for deployment, and have at least 2,000 family packs ready for distribution.

IMPASSABLE. A bridge in Barangay Pangaloan in Jimalalud town is among a number of government infrastructures destroyed by the quake.

FAITH UNSHAKEN. A chapel in Tayasan town is among the structures heavily damaged by the quake.

The Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3rd ID) based in Panay Island recorded as of 5pm on Tuesday 34 deaths for the entire Negros Oriental province (La Libertad-15, Guihulngan City-8, Jimalalud-6, Tayasan-3, Bais City-1) and 82 others as missing.

Appeal to NPA

Units under the 302nd Army Brigade have been deployed in the quake-hit areas to help in the search and rescue operations for missing residents, according to 3rd ID spokesman Captain Reylan Java.

As rescue teams race for time to search missing residents and bring relief assistance to evacuees, the military also appealed to insurgents to “give way and avoid posing security threats.”

At least 2 platoons of New Peoples Army (NPA) rebels under Boy Gatmaitan Command of Larangang Guerrilla 1 Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros are operating in Jimalalud, La Libertad and Guihulngan, according to military reports. Another NPA unit, the SPP-Central, is operating in Tayasan and Ayungon towns.

As we unite with different relief agencies and support groups to bring aid to Negros Oriental, we urge the NPA to refrain from obstructing our efforts by posing as security threats,” Java said. – Rappler.com

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