OCD: 'No signs of life' under Chuzon Supermarket Pampanga rubble
MANILA, Philippines – There are no signs of life under the grocery store rubble in Pampanga, ground zero of the damage caused by the earthquake that struck Monday, April 20, civil defense officials said.
Demolition operations were stopped at the crumbled Chuzon Supermarket building early morning Wednesday, April 24, after another earthquake rocked Zambales at 2 am, which was again felt in Pampanga.
"Currently, there are no signs of life under (the rubble). We're only doing clearing operations now," Civil Defense Central Luzon director Marlou Salazar told Rappler.
Salazar said on Tuesday, April 23, that two people were believed to be missing. Still, he told Rappler that there was no proper accounting of people inside the grocery store.
"Our question still remains on the exact number of reported missing. Hope it can be answered," Salazar said.
In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, Porac town Mayor Condralito dela Cruz said they decided to suspend rescue operations to ensure the safety of responders.
"Pina-stop namin para sa safety ng mga rescuers natin. Alam naman natin kahit nagrerescue tayo, baka naman 'yung mga rescuer natin 'yung malagay sa hindi maayos na kalagayan," Dela Cruz said.
(We stopped to ensure the safety of our rescuers. Despite the need to rescue, we also need to ensure that our rescuers' safety is not compromised.)
Dela Cruz hopes that demolition operations will end by Thursday, so that they can start attending to other residents affected by the quake.
"Sana pinakamatagal bukas. Eh kung pwede ngayon [matapos] na natin, para maka-concentrate naman kami sa ibang problema ng bara-barangay," he said.
(I hope that this ends by tomorrow. If we could only finish it today, so we could concentrate on the problems of the other barangays.)
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of the business permits for all other branches of Chuzon Supermarket's after he visited the ground zero on Tuesday.
Dela Cruz said that Porac officials have been going around barangays to give aid to their constituents.
At least 16 people have died while 81 were injured in Central Luzon due to the earthquake. At least 14 remain missing.