Desperation grows in isolated Bohol town

By Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Oct 17 2013 01:38 PM | Updated as of Oct 17 2013 09:38 PM

1 doctor for 92 patients

MANILA – Desperation is growing in the town of Loon in Bohol following the magnitude 7.2 quake that rocked Visayas, with at least 60 patients at risk of dying if not given immediate medical attention.

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A report by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Coucil (NDRRMC) said 42 people died in Loon, the largest number of fatalities in a single town recorded so far.

The Department of Health fears this number could rise, with some 60 out of the total 92 patients in Loon in need of immediate surgery, according to Dr. Arnel Rivera, chief of DOH – Health Emergency Management Staff's Response Division.

Rivera said only one doctor was catering to the 92 patients, who are staying in makeshift beds in open grounds as the town's only hospital, the Congressman Natalio Castillo Sr. Memorial Medical Center, was completely destroyed by the quake.

The 42 fatalities in Loon include two people who were trapped inside the collapsed hospital, according to Rivera.

Rivera is appealing to the Philippine Air Force and even private airlines to airlift the patients to Celestino Gallarez Hospital in Tagbilaran City, as the town remains isolated after the bridge connecting it to the rest of the province collapsed as well.

Residents have to cross the river using boats after Moalong Bridge in the town of Loon collapsed due to the massive earthquake that hit the area last Tuesday. Photo by Rem Zamora for ABS-CBNnews.com

Food, water, medicine running out

An ABS-CBN News team who reached the isolated area saw the hardships being experienced by the injured residents, some of whom use cartons to support their broken limbs.

One of the patients, a female who got trapped under the rubble for several hours, had her arm amputated to prevent complications.

Food, water, medicine and other medical supplies are also running out in Loon, according to Dr. Marcelino Digal, administration officer of the Loon hospital.

Loon, a town located on the western coast of Bohol, cannot also be reached by big boats due to lack of a major port, according to NDRRMC deputy director Romeo Fajardo.

"Drugs and medicine are still waiting to be transported but we are waiting for the C130s. We have some problems with logistics on the ground," Rivera said in a press conference.

Roderick Salve, Philippine Red Cross' Disaster Management Service chief, said a team of Red Cross volunteers from Cebu will soon be deployed to Loon to attend to the patients.

Salve said a Red Cross team from Tagbilaran City was supposed to go to Loon, but their travel was stalled by intermittent rains.

158 dead

The NDRRMC said the death toll in Tuesday's quake is now at 158. At least 146 perished in Bohol, 11 in neighboring Cebu and 1 in Siquijor.

Twenty-one people remain missing, 11 of them were in Loon. Five of the missing people in Loon are believed to be buried in the town's 260-year-old Our Lady of Light Church which was reduced to stones by the tremors.

An image of the Virgin Mary is placed outside the rubble of Our Lady of Light Church in the town of Loon after it was hit by a massive earthquake last Tuesday. Photo by Rem Zamora for ABS-CBNnews.com

The Department of Social Welfare and Development, meanwhile, said at least 671,967 families or 3,406,227 individuals in 1,235 villages were affected by the quake.
At least 65,274 people are staying in 65 evacuation centers.

The number of houses damaged by the quake in Cebu and Bohol, meanwhile, has soared to 18,265.

The Department of Public Works and Highways said the cost of damage to infrastructures is now at P179.15 million.

Eighteen bridges were also impassable, hampering rescue and relief operations.Three damaged bridges have also been declared structurally unsafe and should be replaced already.

At least 134 schools were also damaged, according to the Department of Education. With the assessment of the schools' structural integrity not yet done, the DepEd said it discourages the use of schools as evacuation centers.