The nightmare is not over for the residents of the Province of Abra in the Philippines, which was hit by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on July 27.
Many families are still sleeping outside their homes as aftershocks continue to rattle the mountainous province in the Cordillera Administrative Region of Northern Luzon.
Two days after the powerful earthquake, which affected more than 20,000 families, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has recorded 1,132 aftershocks with a maximum magnitude of 5.0.
The strongest aftershock was felt as far as Ilocos Sur, where the 17th century Metropolitan Cathedral of the Conversion of St. Paul in Vigan City — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — has already suffered destruction from Wednesday’s quake. Another historic structure that was almost completely destroyed was the 16th-century Bantay Bell Tower.
In Ilocos Norte, which was also hit by Wednesday’s quake, Spanish colonial structures sustained extensive damage, such as Laoag City’s Sinking Bell Tower and Badoc’s old convent of the John the Baptist Minor Basilica.
Baguio City also felt the strength of the earthquake, but none of its buildings and other infrastructures were destroyed. Hence, they started welcoming tourists again to this so-called Summer Capital of the Philippines.
People from other less affected provinces have likewise returned to their normal lives, including Metro Manila residents and businesses who experienced weak shaking.
Abra is the worst affected, with the earthquake most probably triggered by the Abra River Fault, according to Science and Technology Undersecretary and OIC-PhiVolcs Renato Solidum Jr. The province has been already placed under a state of calamity, and 80% of its population are struggling to start anew.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos visited the province to ensure that the people of Abra would be given full assistance by both national and local government agencies. Electricity has been already restored in most municipalities that suffered blackouts, but water supply remains a problem and the president wanted it to be immediately resolved.
Among the government buildings to be rebuilt, President Marcos wanted hospitals to be prioritized. Those whose houses were destroyed by the earthquake should likewise be helped, while those who lack food and other necessities should be provided with these basic needs.
The governments of Australia and Japan, along with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have also already expressed their willingness to help.
More than 100 people were reported to have been injured, while fatalities have now reached 10 after 4 missing persons were found in a landslide area.
Based on the July 29, 2022, report of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Philippines suffered the following damages:
- More than 5,200 houses were either damaged or destroyed in the regions of Cordillera and Ilocos, with the numbers expected to increase as assessments continue.
- There were 33 damaged health facilities, including 10 hospitals, 11 rural health units, 11 barangay health stations, and a city health office.
- Approximately 57 schools were impacted, with 150 classrooms either damaged or destroyed.
- There were landslides and cracks in at least 33 road networks leading to the Cordillera and Ilocos regions, with 14 of these still closed to vehicles as clearing operations are conducted.
Amid all these ordeals, PhiVolcs wants the public to remain vigilant since more aftershocks are to expected in the coming days and weeks.Whizzco