Government rushes to assess earthquake damage
MANILA, Philippines — The government rushed to assess the damage caused by the magnitude 7.4 earthquake off Mindanao’s eastern seaboard as agencies scrambled to identify what was needed in different parts of the country.
Only hours after the magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck 29 kilometers off the coastal town of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, at 10:37 p.m. on Saturday, the government seemed not to have a firm handle on the situation early Sunday.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) continued to monitor the situation as it reported more than 600 “strong” aftershocks as of Sunday morning from the quake that it initially reported at magnitude 6.9.
In a statement, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, in collaboration with local governments, were “actively coordinating efforts to provide essential aid to those in need.”
The two agencies said they were working to provide medical assistance and essential aid to the over 236,000 people affected by the quake.
In a message to the Inquirer on Sunday, Assistant Social Welfare Secretary Romel Lopez said they have already deployed teams in the Caraga region, which was badly hit by the earthquake.
Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian is also set to arrive in Surigao del Sur on Monday to visit the affected families, Lopez said.
Based on their initial assessments, at least 56,634 families are affected across 156 barangays in the Caraga region. Of these, 8,703 families have sought temporary shelters in evacuation centers in the region.
The president said the Department of Public Works and Highways was also “diligently assessing” the Caraga Region with the support of the Office of Civil Defense and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
“In these challenging times, let us unite as a nation. Together, we will overcome the obstacles posed by this disaster and emerge stronger,” Marcos said.
As information about the temblor trickled in, Speaker Martin Romualdez said the House of Representatives would help provide resources and pass urgent measures to assist in the recovery and rebuilding of areas affected by the quake.
In a statement, Romualdez said, “With deep concern and solidarity, we stand with the people of Surigao del Sur in the aftermath of last night’s powerful earthquakes. These events have brought significant challenges, and our hearts go out to all those who have been affected.”
He assured the bigger chamber was actively coordinating with concerned government agencies to “ensure prompt and comprehensive support” and said, “Our commitment is to provide immediate relief and long-term assistance to the communities in distress.”
“We are prepared to mobilize resources and pass urgent measures that can aid recovery and rebuilding efforts. The welfare and safety of our citizens are of utmost importance, and we will work tirelessly to address their needs during this critical time,” he said.
Romualdez urged House lawmakers to “join forces in extending help and compassion to our brothers and sisters in Surigao del Sur.”
“Together, we will overcome this challenge and rebuild stronger and more resilient communities,” he concluded.