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Duterte scheduled to visit Batanes quake victims

BASCO, Batanes – President Duterte is scheduled to arrive here at noon Sunday, July 28 to check on residents jolted by the series of earthquakes and aftershocks last Saturday.

“The President is expected to visit the people of Batanes today, assess the extent of damage in the province and initiate the rebuilding of one of the most treasured destinations of the country,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

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Panelo said the President is scheduled to leave Davao City around 10:30 a.m.

He added that all concern departments has been ordered to extend immediate assistance to the residents of Batanes, particularly in the municipality of Itbayat.

“The Palace offers its deep condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones during the earthquakes that hit Batanes,” Panelo said in a statement.

“We send our sincerest prayers for the fast and speedy recovery of those who were injured,” he added.

Batanes Gov. Marilou Cayco had requested Malacanang for aid, but inclement weather is preventing a C130 transport airplane from delivering relief items to the country’s northernmost province.

A magnitude 5.4 magnitude earthquake rattled the municipality of Itbayat at 4:16 a.m. on Saturday, damaging several stone houses and other structures while most of the residents were still asleep.

Three hours later, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck, after a series of aftershocks.

A third earthquake struck off Basco 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.

Small tremors continued to rock Batanes overnight, particularly in Itbayat, where nine people died after being crushed inside their collapsed homes.

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Among the casualties were two infants.

READ: Some Batanes quake fatalities buried immediately

Strong rains have obstructed rescue and retrieval operations. Many families spent the night outside their homes as a precaution due to the constant shaking.

Six Itbayat residents have been flown to a Basco hospital for treatment. /gsg

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