Death toll rises to 97; Bohol hit hard
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The death toll from Tuesday's (October 15) earthquake in Central Visayas has risen to at least 97, with Bohol, the province where the epicenter was located, reporting most of the casualties, the military said.
Lt Gen Roy Deveraturda, commanding general of the military's central command based in Cebu, said Tuesday evening that the number of dead in Bohol alone has reached 87. In Cebu, 9 have died, while one fatality was reported in Siquijor.
One of the hardest hit areas was the coastal town of Loon in Bohol, where at least 18 people were killed by landslides that buried houses along large stretches of highway.
Loon is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the epicenter of the quake.
Other towns that reported deaths in Bohol include Getafe, Clarin, Buenavista, Calape, Tubigon, Balilihan, Inabanga, Batuan, Sagbayan, Baclayon, Loay, Alburquerque, Maribojoc, Bilar, Cortes, Catigbian and Antequera, as well as Tagbilaran City, according to Bohol police chief Senior Supt Dennis Agustin.
He estimated at least 200 more are injured.
Cebu, meanwhile, has reported at least 9 dead, the military and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said. At least 54 others were injured.
One person also died in Siquijor, the NDRRMC said. Three others were injured.
The quake struck at 8:12 am, and was centered 2 kilometers southeast of Carmen, Bohol (09.80°N, 124.20°E). The quake's depth of focus was 33 kilometers, and was of tectonic origin, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.
The quake was felt across the Visayas, and was felt as far as Mindanao and parts of southern Luzon.
More than 200 aftershocks have been recorded by the Phivolcs as of 6 pm.
Authorities said the death toll could still climb, with authorities struggling to assess the extent of the damage in the worst-hit areas of Bohol where roads were impassable and power was cut.
Nevertheless, they expressed relief the earthquake occurred on a public holiday, since there were fewer people in many of the major buildings that suffered damage.
State of calamity
The provinces of Bohol and Cebu are currently under state of calamity, declared by their respective local governments hours after the quake struck.
Placing a province or city under a state of calamity makes it easier for government to deliver needed services in affected areas.
Calamity funds are appropriated, the prices of basic goods are frozen, no interest loans may be granted, and additional allowances are granted for government officials and disaster agencies in the area.
The NDRRMC reported damages in seaports and airports, government buildings, hospitals, schools, and other infrastructure, mostly in Bohol and Cebu.
Telecommunications and power services were disrupted, as well as major business operations such as aviation, marine transportation, and the region's booming business process outsourcing.
In Cebu, there were also reports of landslides in the towns of Aloguinsan and Argo; damage in buildings in Boljoon, Tudela, Ronda and Mandaue City; and an accident in Talisay City, according to the provincial government's tally. Four of the province's reported fatalities were recorded when a fish market collapsed, the local government said. Another person was killed in another market.
Stampedes were also reported in Pinamungajan and Toledo City, as earlier reported by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The stampedes occurred during the distribution of the payouts for the government's Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program. One child died, and 15 others were injured in the two incidents.
The disaster also damaged numerous centuries-old churches, notably the Sto Niño Basilica in downtown Cebu City, and the Loboc Church in Bohol.
Many of the destroyed structures are declared National Cultural Treasures, National Historical Landmarks, and Important Cultural Properties, which are protected under the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.
The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) outlined the plan to assess the damage sustained by the structures and how to move forward in restoring them, in coordination with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the National Museum (NM).
President Benigno Aquino III is scheduled to visit the quake-ravaged areas on Wednesday, October 16. – With reports from Natashya Gutierrez, KD Suarez, Pia Ranada, and Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com