Aftershocks hamper rescue efforts

David Yu Santos

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[UPDATED] NDRRMC: 71 are reported missing

(Video courtesy of PHISTUDIO)

MANILA, Philippines – Rescue efforts in areas in Negros Oriental worst-hit by Monday’s earthquake are being hampered by recurring aftershocks, as local government and aid agencies scamper to deliver relief assistance to affected residents.

Speaking to ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC), Guihulngan City mayor Ernesto Reyes said that “rescue teams from Cebu” and adjacent areas have been deployed to villages where people were trapped due to a landslide that was caused by the 6.9-magnitude quake that struck Visayas shortly before noon on Monday, Feb. 6.

People have to take cover,” Reyes said, who sounded agitated after a strong aftershock was felt shortly before he went on air.This is a strong one,” Reyes said. “People are panicking again.”

Earlier, Pichong Mijares, executive secretary of Guihulngan City told Rappler that around “17-20 cadavers” have so far been recovered from leveled structures and collapsed walls since Tuesday morning.

We are verifying a report that at least 21 cadavers of school kids were seen in a river bank in Barangay Planas,” Mijares said. “This is aside from another report of people in the same village, that were trapped during a landslide following the earthquake.”

As of 1:30pm Tuesday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that at least 79 people have been reported missing in the landslides in Barangay Planas in Guihulngan City and Barangay Solonggon in La Libertad town. 15 were confirmed dead while 52 others were wounded, with all victims coming from Negros Oriental.

A number of search and rescue teams from different parts of the Visayas region, as well police and military units from Negros Oriental, have been sent to Barangay Planas to help locate the people believed to have been trapped under the rubble.

Appeal for more aid

We badly need food and water for residents who have become homeless,” Mijares said, citing the city’s public high school, local hospital, highly-elevated villages and even a cemetery as areas where evacuees are temporarily staying after their houses were totally-destroyed or are simply afraid to return to their homes.

Panic buying was inevitable, according to Mijares, since quite a number of business establishments were closed, thus, causing an environment of food shortage.

Mijares also said that medicines, particularly Anti-Tetanus medications, are running out. These are needed to treat residents who were wounded due to twisted metals and falling debris.

Relief goods may have to be transported from Bacolod City in neighboring Negros Occidental, since damaged roads and bridges from Dumaguete City, the capital of Negros Oriental, remain impassable.

Classes in all levels, as well as government and private offices, remain suspended as rescue and relief efforts are in full-swing in Guihulngan, as support groups

Power and water utility services, which were badly affected by the quake, remain unavailable.

Mijares said that initial estimates made by the local power firm, it would take “at least 2 weeks” to restore the electricity in the province. Local government officials from least-affected towns have promised to deliver drinking water to Guihulngan within the day. –

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