MANILA (UPDATE) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday ordered authorities to prioritize restoring water supply in northern Luzon areas struck by a magnitude 7 earthquake.
Several towns in Abra province, the epicenter of Wednesday's quake, experienced water outage, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
"That (water supply) is priority than communications and power. That is something that has to be restored immediately," Marcos said during a situation briefing with officials in Abra.
Abra alone will need 300,000 bottles of drinking water, said the Office of Civil Defense.
The President's sister Sen. Imee Marcos, who was present during the briefing, committed to provide Abra with solar-powered water purifiers. She also urged the national government to procure more water purifiers for other areas, which the President agreed with.
"We should procure more of those because immediately water is always going to be a problem... You know, things like cholera...will come into play," the chief executive said.
"We cannot depend only on water bottles kasi after a while and then makikita ninyo ang daming plastic agad sa barangay ninyo, maglilinis kayo nang husto," he added.
(Then you will see plastic bottles around your villages, you still have to clean them.)
Marcos directed the military to maximize its air assets for the distribution of relief aid, as damaged roads hampered the delivery of assistance.
"I'm hoping it will be for a short time, maybe a week. We have to feed those people," he said.
The President also instructed officials to provide materials for temporary shelters.
Addressing quake survivors, Marcos said, "Natamaan na nga kayo ng lindol, hindi na kayo dagdagan pa ang inyong kahirapan," he said.
(You got hit by an earthquake and we need to find ways to ease your burden.)
The Department of Health has sent trucks carrying 20 tents, 200 cot beds, hygiene kits, medicines and other supplies, according to Health Undersecretary Beverly Ho.
The temblor left at least 4 dead, 4 missing, 272 injured, and 19 hospitalized, Ho said, citing data from the DOH Cordillera Center for Health Development.
A total of 53 health facilities were damaged, including 8 hospitals, 28 rural health units, and 18 barangay health stations, Ho added.
Meantime, the national disaster council said at least 5 people were killed and more than 150 injured when Wednesday's quake toppled buildings, triggered landslides, and shook high-rise towers hundreds of kilometers away in the capital Manila.
More than 800 aftershocks have been recorded since the quake hit, including 24 that were strong enough to feel, the local seismological agency said.
— With a report from Agence France-Presse