CITY OF ILAGAN, Isabela – Almost 3,000 people were affected by the four earthquakes that shook Itbayat, Batanes on Saturday, Cagayan Valley regional civil defense officials reported on Sunday.
Citing reports from the Batanes province, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) has recorded 2,963 victims in five barangays in Itbayat, an island-town closer to Taiwan than the mainland of Cagayan Valley.
Fifteen houses, two schools, the Our Lady of Santo Rosario Church, a health center and a hospital were among the structures that were damaged, the agency said.
Roldan Esdicul, Batanes provincial disaster risk reduction management officer, told the Philippine News Agency that nine fatalities, including two infants, were recorded along with 63 injured victims.
“The villagers have been staying in the open plaza for fear of being buried inside their houses. They were asked to stay in the area for safety,” he said.
Esdicul said the Armed Forces of the Philippines through the Northern Luzon Command had deployed two search and rescue teams and one medical team to help the Batanes provincial government.
Agnes Nico, a resident of the affected town and teacher at the Itbayat Central School, said in a Facebook chat with the Philippine News Agency on Saturday night that she and her family have been staying at their farm for fear that their concrete house will collapse due to the tremors.
She said some of their neighbors’ houses collapsed, burying some of them, after the earthquake.
The government has sent relief and medical items to the affected villagers. Generator sets were also provided by the National Power Corporation and the National Electrification Administration.
The first of the four earthquakes struck Itbayat at 4:16 a.m. with a 5.4 magnitude, damaging several stone houses and other structures while most of the residents were still asleep.
A magnitude 5.9-earthquake again struck after three hours. A third earthquake struck at 9:24 a.m. with a magnitude of 5.8 while a weaker 4.9- tremor was recorded by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology at 6:11 p.m.
Six of the nine fatalities were immediately buried by their relatives in a mass funeral, citing lack of embalming facilities in the town. The relatives of three others had opted to wait for embalming materials from the mainland.
Buried were Genward Mina, who was crushed by a boulder while saving his girlfriend Fiona Valiente; a 10-day-old baby; Tito Asa, 88; Teresita Gulaga, 76; Eva Valiente, 19; and Edwin Ponce, 32.
Still awaiting burial, as of this posting, are 73-year-old Fausta Caan; her granddaughter, five-day-old baby Haisly Cheffe Naquita; and 13-year-old Mary Rose Valiente. Villamor Visaya, Jr / PNA – northboundasia.com