Several dead in Batanes quakes

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 27 2019 08:42 AM | Updated as of Jul 27 2019 03:06 PM

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MANILA (5th UPDATE) - Several people were killed after consecutive quakes jolted Batanes, Itbayat town Mayor Raul De Sagon said Saturday, hours after the temblors struck the northern islands.

As of 10:56 a.m., disaster officials recorded 8 dead and 60 people injured, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director Ricardo Jalad told Reuters.

The first quake killed 5 people while 3 people were killed in the succeeding temblors, Jalad said.

Batanes was first hit by a magnitude 5 quake around 4 a.m., followed by a magnitude 3.2 quake at 5 a.m. 

A 5.9 magnitude quake then struck at 7:38 a.m., the "main shock," said Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum. 

Most of the casualties came from Barangay Santa Maria in Itbayat, De Sagon said in a separate interview on radio DZMM.

"Nadaganan sila doon sa mga bahay nila... Nakaano [tira] kasi sila sa old houses na made of lime[stones] na walang bakal," he said.

(They were buried by debris in their houses because they live in old houses made out of limestones, without metal reinforcement.)

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Phivolcs monitoring showed several aftershocks struck the northern islands later in the day, the strongest being a 5.8-magnitude temblor that struck east of Basco at 9:24 a.m. 


Electricity in Itbayat was temporarily cut off for safety reasons, Batanes Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office chief Dan Esdicul told DZMM.

"Sa munisipyo ng Itbayat, pansamantalang sinara 'yung power lines for security reasons pero dito sa mainland, okay 'yung kuryente namin," he said.

(Power lines in the municipality of Itbayat were temporarily cut off for security reasons, but electricity in the mainland is still okay.)

The belfry of the Nuestra Señora Del Rosario church in Itbayat has also collapsed, Esdicul said.

Patients staying in the island's hospital, an old structure, have been told to stay in the plaza in case of more aftershocks, De Sagon said.

"Itong hospital dito ay old building kaya pinalabas ko na din 'yung mga pasyente. Nandito kami sa plaza ngayon nagco-conduct ng first aid," he said.

(The hospital here is an old building so I told the patients to stay outside. We're conducting first aid in the plaza.)

The mayor has already requested the provincial capitol to conduct medical evacuations to take the quake victims to bigger hospitals in mainland Luzon.

De Sagon said the town would request choppers to take the wounded if the local airport is damaged. 

"Hindi kasi kami sigurado sa sea [transport] kasi baka mag-generate din ito [lindol] ng malalaking alon pag ganito kalakas," he said.

(We cannot be sure of our safety if we travel by sea because earthquakes that are this strong might generate big waves.)

The mayor also appealed for medical supplies and doctors.

"Kung may gustong tumulong, 'yung medical supplies lang and doctors, trauma doctors," he said.

(If there are people who would want to help, we need medical supplies and doctors, trauma doctors.)

"Maybe mga psychiatrist dahil 'yung mga bata dito tulala. Kahit mga matatanda kailangan siguro matingnan ng mga psychiatrist."

(Maybe we need psychiatrists because the kids here are still in a daze. Even the adults need to be checked by psychiatrists.)


School teacher Edna Gato said the ground shaking was traumatic for the Ivatans.

"It's traumatic ... we're still feel strong aftershocks," she told Reuters as she stood in the town plaza with about 1,000 other people.

"New houses were damaged and the old houses which we were preserving were completely destroyed," she said, referring to traditional stone homes.

The national disaster agency said it was sending medical and rescue teams to the islands, about half way between the main Philippine island of Luzon and Taiwan.

The military was also deploying an aircraft to send supplies and bring out injured, Jalad said.


Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) North Luzon Command (NOLCOM) said a search and rescue team from the Philippine Air Force was deployed within the first few hours after the first quake. 

"Right after the first earthquake ay naka-respond kaagad-agad 'yung Marine Battalion Landing Team in Itbayat... [along with] 18 CAFGU (Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit) don sa area... [Then] as of 9:18 a.m. nakalipad 'yung ating C-295 para tumulong at magdala ng search and rescue team mula po sa Philippine Air Force," NOLCOM spokesperson Major Ericson Bulosan told ANC. 
(Right after the first earthquake, the Marine Battalion Landing Team was able to respond in Itbayat... [along with] 18 CAFGU in the area... [Then] as of 9:18 a.m. our C-295 was able to fly and brought a search and rescue team from the Philippine Air Force.)

A deployment of another military plane to augment the initial team will all depend on the weather in the area, Bulosan noted.

"If maganda 'yung panahon doon we'll be sending another plane for another set of rescue teams."

- With a report from Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News, and Reuters