Batanes placed under state of calamity after earthquakes

Batanes placed under state of calamity after earthquakes

TUGUEGARAO CITY — The entire Batanes province was placed under a state of calamity on Tuesday following the major earthquakes on Saturday that forced almost 3,000 villagers to stay at makeshift tents in Itbayat town.

The declaration was recommended by the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) to let the local government tap its emergency funds.

Nine people were confirmed killed and close to PHP40 million worth of properties were damaged due to the powerful tremors, according to the NDRRMC. Most of the fatalities were recovered from a collapsed building.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said over 200 aftershocks have jolted Itbayat since the 5.4 magnitude tremor at 4:16 a.m. on Saturday. This was followed by a second, stronger jolt at magnitude 5.9 about three hours later.

Roldan Cesar Esdicul, provincial disaster risk reduction and management officer, said the declaration would allow for the release of immediate funds for relief goods and construction materials for the temporary shelters of the quake survivors.

“This is for emergency purposes because we are also preparing for the coming typhoon,” Esdicul told the PNA in a phone interview on Tuesday.

Earlier on Monday, the Itbayat municipal council declared the town under a state of calamity during a regular session.

Nilda Garcia, Itbayat town disaster risk-reduction management officer, said their calamity fund would be used to complement the assistance from the national government and donations from various non-government and civic organizations.

The quake survivors are staying at the town’s open plaza since villagers were cautioned against returning to their damaged houses.

Local disaster officials said more than 60 people were injured during the temblors and some of them were airlifted to this city for treatment.

Dr. Glenn Matthew Baggao, chief of Cagayan Valley Medical Center, said the hospital is providing free implants, food, and medication to quake survivors being treated at the center. At least two elders were brought to the hospital but more Itbayat victims are expected to be brought to the said medical facility.

Meanwhile, Batanes Governor Marilou Cayco has advised tourists to avoid visiting Itbayat for now as it lacks facilities to accommodate them.

The provincial government would ask the help of National Historical Commission of the Philippines to restore and restrengthen the heritage structures that were damaged by the quakes, she added.   Villamor Visaya, Jr / PNA –