Batanes quakes death toll climbs to 9; latest fatality found in a cave

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 29 2019 12:35 PM | Updated as of Jul 29 2019 04:56 PM

MANILA (3rd UPDATE) -- The death toll from 2 earthquakes that struck Batanes last Saturday climbed to 9 Monday as rescuers retrieved another body.

Rescuers found the remains of Itbayat resident Edwin Ponce in a cave where he was sleeping when the tremor struck the northern islands.

“Sinabihan niya (Ponce) ang nanay na magpapahinga siya sa bukid nila, andun siya sa kweba dahil malamig na lugar, may duyan, doon siya inabutan [ng lindol],” Itbayat Mayor Raul De Sagon said.

(He told his mother that he would rest in the fields. He was in the cave because it's cool there and there's a hammock. He was there when the earthquake struck.)

“Mahirap tanggapin pero pinipilit kong tanggapin. Hindi ko maiwasan maiyak ako minsan kapag maalala ko siya,” said Ponce's mother, Margarita.

(It's difficult to accept but I have to accept it. I can't help but cry when I remember him.)

At least 5 villages in Itbayat were the hardest hit, according to the the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

DOH PERSONNEL ON 24-HOUR DUTY

The Department of Health (DOH) said it raised code blue alert in Batanes and white alert in the Cagayan Valley Center for Health Development Operations Center.

Under a code white alert, personnel shall prepare to respond to any emergency situation. Blue is one notch higher, requiring personnel to be on 24-hour duty.

A mental health and psycho-social support team from the Mariveles Mental Hospital in Bataan and a trauma team from the Cagayan Valley Medical Center in Tuguegarao City were also deployed to Itbayat, said the DOH.

The DOH said the Itbayat District Hospital and Itbayat Municipal Health Office are no longer functional after sustaining damages worth P47 million.

On Saturday, 2 earthquakes in the magnitude-5 range hit Batanes province. The first one registered at 5.4 struck at 4:16 a.m. at a depth of 12 kilometers northeast of Itbayat town.

Three hours later, a second one at magnitude-5.9 struck at about 19 kilometers off Itbayat.

A total of 2,963 people or 911 families were affected by the tremors that spawned some 180 aftershocks, a report by the NDRRMC on Sunday showed.

As per the NDRRMC's count, 63 people were injured. However, Batanes Gov. Marilou Cayco estimated the number to be about 100.

-- Report from Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News