Rescuers rush to search for bodies in Bohol
LOON, Bohol—Six rescuers from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) arrived here on Thursday and immediately started to dig in the public market after receiving reports that a motorcycle was buried under the rubble of structures that were destroyed by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake on Tuesday.
Thinking that the motorcycle driver was buried beneath the rubble, the MMDA rescuers furiously dug for him with their hands.
A foul odor made their work difficult and added to their fear that the driver was already dead.
After half an hour, they found the motorcycle, but not the body.
It turned out that the foul odor was coming from decaying food, left by vendors who scampered for safety when the earthquake struck at 8:15 a.m. on Tuesday.
The MMDA team arrived here to help look for at least seven people reported missing and believed to be buried beneath the rubble.
One of the missing is Nilda Versaluna, 66, who was trapped when her house collapsed during the earthquake.
A leader of the MMDA team said it was impossible to find a survivor beneath the rubble more than 48 hours after the earthquake but the group would search for the missing anyway.
Loon Mayor Lloyd Lopez, however, stopped rescuers from digging in the rubble of Versaluna’s house, as the place was located 4.5 meters from a gas station that was badly damaged by the earthquake.
Lopez feared that movement caused by the search might ignite the gas supply at the station, resulting in an explosion.
The mayor said workers were checking the station for leaks and only after they were given an assurance of safety would he allow the search for Versaluna’s body to proceed.
Rescuers were also looking for a lay minister and five churchgoers who failed to get out of the Our Lady of Light Parish Church in Napu village as the earthquake struck on Tuesday.
The 180-year-old church collapsed, and is completely destroyed.
Rescuers will also search through the rubble of a collapsed school building behind the church. It was reported that teachers were preparing lesson plans when the earthquake struck.
The death toll from the powerful earthquake rose to 171 on Thursday, with most of the fatalities coming from Bohol, the epicenter of the temblor.
Three bodies found
The number rose with the recovery of two bodies in Loon and another in Maribojoc town, according to Verneil Balaba of the Office of Civil Defense in Bohol.
The earthquake damaged more than half a billion pesos in infrastructure in Bohol and Cebu, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Thursday.
The Bohol provincial police also said 171 people were killed in the earthquake, many of them crushed under the rubble of their collapsed homes.
Balaba said 160 died in Bohol alone, with 188 injured.
The NDRRMC figure varied slightly, with 159 dead in Bohol, 11 in Cebu, and one in Siquijor.
Nearly 400 people from Bohol, Cebu, Siquijor, Negros Occidental and Iloilo provinces were reported injured.
The council said in a late afternoon news conference that the number of people affected by the earthquake had reached 3.4 million.
The NDRRMC said damage to bridges and roads was estimated at P563.66 million—P546 million in Bohol province and P17.6 million in nearby Cebu province.
On Wednesday, the council reported that Bohol had 145 dead and 22 people reported missing.
But the death toll rose to 171 on Thursday, with 20 missing.
PO3 Carl John Legazpi of the Bohol provincial police explained that of the additional nine fatalities, only one was among those reported missing.
Legazpi said that rescue operations were focused on the town of Loon, where most of the fatalities were recovered.
He said that there were residents reportedly buried under their collapsed homes.
Legazpi also said that the eastern side of Bohol, where the popular beach resort area of Panglao is located, did not suffer any damage from the earthquake.
He said that in the town of Loon, there were 49 killed; Getafe, two; Clarin, four; Buenavista, two; Calape, five; Tubigon, seven; Balilihan, five; Inabanga, four; Batuan, one; Sagbayan, 10; Baclayon, one; the capital Tagbilaran City, four; Loay, two; Alburquerque, two; Maribojoc, 15; Bilar, six; Cortes, six; Catigbian, five; Antequera, 13; San Isidro, 10; Talibon, one; Trinidad, one; Danao, two; Sierra Bullones, one; and Sevilla, one.
Siquijor had reported only one fatality since Tuesday’s earthquake.
Cebu death toll
Two more died in Cebu, bringing the number of fatalities there to 11, the Office of Civil Defense in Central Visayas said Thursday.
Bernardina Tuquib, 43, of Pinamungajan, died from “trauma,” while an unidentified body was recovered from the collapsed Pasil Fish Port in Cebu City, the OCD said.
The OCD said that of the 11 dead in Cebu, two were from Pinamungahan; Ronda, one; Talisay City, one; Cebu City, five; and Mandaue City, two.—With a report from Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Inquirer Visayas
Originally posted at 10:11 pm |Thursday, October 17, 2013
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