BAGUIO, Philippines – At least 47 persons were injured, two of them seriously, when a magnitude 6.4 tremor jolted Abra province and Ilocos Norte late Tuesday night, October 25.
Barely three months after a magnitude 7 earthquake hit Abra in July, causing destruction across a wide swathe of Northern Luzon, weakened structures like old churches, hospitals, schools, and homes sustained greater damage.
Across Abra and the Ilocos Region, local governments canceled classes and work to assess damage on public and private facilities. Ilocos Norte also canceled flights to and from the province as it evaluated the state of the Laoag International Airport, including runways.
Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Erwin Tulfo visited Abra and Ilocos Norte, giving immediate aid to families with injured members and damaged homes.
He reassured affected residents of 10,000 food packs available for those waiting out aftershocks, which had reached 436 as of Wednesday afternoon, October 26.
“We do not have a critical problem when it comes to food and shelter. That is the most important part of the relief that we have to provide now for the people affected by the earthquake last night,” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. told reporters.
The strongest aftershock was recorded at 5:04 am in Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte, at magnitude 4.8.
“The belfry has fallen,” said Aglipayans La Paz Abra’s Facebook page, echoing the words of Christian Edward Padua, who took photos of the damage sustained by the Nuestra Señora de La Paz Parish, the oldest Iglesia Filipina Independiente cathedral in the Philippines.
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines has labeled the La Paz church as a “Presumed Important Cultural Property.”
In Sarat, another Ilocos Norte town, statues of saints fell over at the Sta. Monica Catholic Church.
At the Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center in Batac City, medical staff rushed patients, including those in the intensive care unit, to safety outdoors as portions of ceilings came down and glass shattered during the earthquake.
In Abra, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office chief Arnel Valdez reported six people injured in Lagayan town, where residents streamed out of homes when the quake struck at 10:59 pm Tuesday and stayed overnight on the streets.
Six Lagayan houses were destroyed, and a national high school suffered substantial damage.
One injury was reported in San Quintin town, three in San Juan, and one in Daguioman.
Tineg reported 12 partially damaged homes; Dilong in Tubo, 21; and San Quintin, 7.
Tubo also reported that 52 families, comprising 182 individuals, evacuated their homes after the quake.
Mid-afternoon of Wednesday, the local government of Calanasan in Apayao province advised commuters to stay away from the Poblacion to Namaltugan road, where work teams opened a lane after a rockfall, saying the slope at the Gurid Section remained unstable.
The Philippine Information Agency Cordillera reported that Tulfo gave seven individuals in Lagayan, Abra, P5,000 each.
In Ilocos Norte, Tulfo told Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc his department had P20 million cash on standby for aid.
Ilocos Norte’s Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported one destroyed house and 55 others partially damaged, and they received their aid on Wednesday afternoon.
The PDRRMC said 36 persons suffered slight injuries while two were rushed to the Governor Roque B. Ablan Sr. Memorial Hospital for more serious wounds.
Aside from evaluating the earthquake damage, Tulfo also planned to head to the towns of Pagudpud and Adams to monitor communities that reported floods and landslides during Typhoon Neneng and Tropical Depression Obet.
Manotoc urged the provincial board to approve another state of calamity declaration because of the quake.
In Ilocos Sur, Governor Jerry Singson issued an executive order mandating safety checks on both public and private buildings before these re-open.