Strong aftershock before Duterte’s arrival panics Surigaonons
SURIGAO CITY – The magnitude-6.7 quake that struck Surigao del late Friday night, affected at least 28 barangays here, damaging an airport and other buildings, along with at least 1,000 houses. At least eight people were killed and more than 200 were injured.
Since Friday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) have recorded more than 130 aftershocks.
On Sunday, one strong aftershock alarmed residents, some of whom screamed in fear while waiting for President Rodrigo Duterte to arrive at a gymnasium in the hard-hit provincial capital.
With rosary in one hand, 67-year-old Rosalina Busano shouted in prayer as an aftershock was felt inside the auditorium here where hundreds of people waited for the President.
Busano stretched out her arms and called for the Virgin Mary’s intervention.
“She saved us (from the earthquake) and we pray again that she would protect us,” Busano, a utility worker at city hall, shouted.
Two women near Busano started to wail. One of them was Nenita Resma, whose house in the village of San Juan was destroyed by Friday night’s tremor.
Resma asked social workers to just give them the relief goods so they could go home.
Resma and her women neighbors came to the auditorium as early as 6:30 a.m. for them to be among the 500 people who will be allowed inside and have an audience with the President.
The President, who promised relief for the victims, arrived past noon. He did not witness the panic inside the auditorium when two aftershocks jolted the city Sunday morning.
Even if she was on loud speaker, Annete Villasis, the city government’s information officer, failed to pursuade the people to stay calm and remain on their seats
The panic prompted police officers and even members of the Presidential Security Group to help calm the audience down.
Outside the auditorium were hundreds of residents who learned about a mining firms’ plan to distribute bottled water.
Residents have been suffering from water supply shortage after several pipelines of the Surigao City Water District were damaged by the tremor.
Duterte later expressed sympathy and pledged financial help to quake survivors needing medical treatment.
Meanwhile, officials have warned residents to ensure their houses are stable amid aftershocks, which experts say are normal and can continue for weeks following a powerful earthquake. –With a report from AP /atm