2 dead in strong Leyte earthquake
MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – At least two people were killed in the magnitude 6.5 earthquake that struck the province of Leyte on Thursday, July 6.
The earthquake struck off Jaro, Leyte at 4:03 pm on Thursday, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
An 18-year-old woman died after being hit by falling debris in Ormoc City, near the epicenter of the quake, police said.
In the municipality of Kananga, a 3-story commercial building also collapsed, trapping people inside. The building housed a grocery store and function rooms.
Kananga Vice Mayor Elmer Codilla told Agence France-Presse that one body had been retrieved from the rubble, and 8 survivors rescued as of Thursday evening.
"Eight have been rescued. All are in the hospital," the vice mayor said, declining to say if their injuries were serious.
Among those rescued were two people who previously sent text messages under the rubble, calling for help, he said.
"There are 6 or 7 still inside. Definitely more than 5 but less than 10," he added.
Among those still trapped are two children who have been reached by rescuers but who still cannot be extricated from the rubble, the vice mayor said.
"We have given them water," he added.
Leyte Governor Dominico Petilla said rescue personnel, ambulances, and heavy equipment have been sent to the mountainous town of about 50,000 people.
Roy Ribo, an official with a farmers' organization who was visiting Kananga, said he watched schoolchildren panic as their teachers herded them out of their classrooms for safety after the quake.
"Many children were hysterical. They were frantic, crying," he added.
Father Romy Salazar, the Catholic parish priest of the Leyte town of Jaro at the quake's epicenter, told Agence France-Presse residents rushed out of their homes as the town shook.
"I was inside the church. I was forced to hold on to the main door," Salazar said, but added he had not seen any major damage in the town.
In the town of Villaba, some roads have been damaged, but these remain passable.
Meanwhile, in the town of Carigara, Phivolcs' Roel Montesa said landslides have been reported in Barangay Hiluktugan.
Power supply cut off
Earthquake-hit Leyte, as well as the nearby Samar provinces and Bohol, also suffered blackouts due to the tremor.
In a statement on Thursday, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said power has yet to be restored in Leyte, Samar, and Bohol.
"NGCP is still assessing the extent of the damage brought about by the earthquake... The earthquake caused island-wide blackouts in Samar, Bohol, Southern Leyte, and parts of Northern Leyte," the NGCP said shortly before midnight.
It added that its Cebu-Leyte submarine cable and its Tabango Substation in Leyte continue to transmit power to Leyeco V, serving the municipalities of Tabango, San Isidro, and Villaba.
Earlier, the NGCP said neighboring Panay, Negros, and Cebu also experienced power interruptions. Electricity had been restored in these areas afterwards, but in its latest update, the NGCP clarified that they may still suffer "occasional" blackouts due to the outage of power plants in Leyte.
"Aerial and foot inspection and restoration of lines in the affected areas will be in full swing as soon as the situation allows," the NGCP added.
On Thursday afternoon, about half of the consumers served by power distributor Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) in Bacolod City had been affected.
Ceneco planning department manager Leomel Tambanillo said 3 of their substations in Bacolod City tripped.
The NGCP has since activated its Overall Command Center (OCMC), to "monitor power restoration activities, reports, and updates" from regional command centers in the Visayas.
Condition of Leyte airports
Based on its initial assessment, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said the earthquake did not damage airports in Leyte.
But aviation authorities are verifying reports that the Ormoc Airport's runway had been damaged.
"[The] Calbayog, Catarman, and Tacloban airports, which are operating regular commercial flights, are in normal condition, while Ormoc Airport is now being evaluated if it indeed [sustained] damage at the end of [runways] 36 and 18," CAAP said. – with reports from Jazmin Bonifacio, Marchel P. Espina, & Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com