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Philippines: Earthquake Kills 8, Injures Dozens, Officials Say

Jojo Rinoza
Dagupan, Philippines
2019-07-27
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Residents of the island-town of Itbayat gather in an open field after a strong earthquake struck the Philippines’ northernmost province of Batanes, July 27, 2019.
Residents of the island-town of Itbayat gather in an open field after a strong earthquake struck the Philippines’ northernmost province of Batanes, July 27, 2019.
BenarNews/Courtesy of Analyn Mita Nico

Eight people were killed and 60 others suffered injuries when an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.4 shook the Philippines' northernmost island-province of Batanes on Saturday, disaster relief officials said.

The temblor was followed by at least 11 aftershocks, with varying magnitudes from 2.8 to 5.9 on the open-ended Richter scale, the state volcanology office reported.

Officials did not issue tsunami warnings.

Those who died perished when their homes of stone and wood collapsed in the initial temblor. The others were injured by falling debris.

The epicenter was near Itbayat, one of the largest towns of Batanes province, officials said. Itbayat has a population of fewer than 3,000 and is about 156 km (97 miles) from the southernmost tip of Taiwan.

“The people were advised to stay outdoors for a time, in plazas and multipurpose halls to be safe from aftershocks,” said Ricardo Jalad, head of the National Disaster Risk-Reduction and Management Council in Manila.

Jalad said the death toll was not expected to go up. “There is no one missing who was buried or something like that. Everyone has been accounted [for],” he said.

Rescue and relief officials were already trying to reach Itbayat, which is only accessible by boat from the main Batanes island.

President Rodrigo Duterte had been briefed on the situation and has directed all agencies to respond and undertake measures to provide assistance to the victims and rehabilitate damaged properties, according to his spokesman, Salvador Panelo.

Panelo said relief agencies were working to “bring normalcy back as soon possible” to the sparsely populated islands.

“We ask affected constituents to remain calm as we urge them to remain vigilant and cooperative to government responses and relief teams,” he said.

The Philippines sits on the so-called Ring of Fire, a large area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where shifting tectonic plates often cause temblors, according to seismologists.

In April, a quake with a magnitude of 6.1 struck the country’s most populous Luzon island, causing about 100 buildings to crumble, and killing at least 16 people.

One of the strongest tremors to hit the Philippines in recent years occurred in 1990, when a 7.8-magnitude quake caused buildings and hotels to collapse in the northern city of Baguio, killing more than 2,400 people.

A home with walls made of stones and concrete collapsed after an earthquake with strong aftershocks hit the Philippines’ northernmost province of Batanes, July 27, 2019.
A home with walls made of stones and concrete collapsed after an earthquake with strong aftershocks hit the Philippines’ northernmost province of Batanes, July 27, 2019. AFP/Courtesy of Agnes Salengua Nico

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