Classes in quake-hit North Cotabato town suspended
CARMEN, North Cotabato— The opening of classes in the entire town has been suspended while education officials and public works conduct assessment of school buildings following a Magnitude 5.7 earthquake Saturday night.
Cynthia Ortega, North Cotabato provincial disaster risk reduction management council chairperson, said education officials have recommended the suspension of class opening Monday to ensure the safety of children as there were 32 classrooms that were either destroyed or damaged by the earthquake.
“We are still conducting assessment, some school buildings have collapsed, others have huge cracks on concrete walls,” Dionisio Costes, Carmen schools district supervisor, said.
“This is beyond our control, this is an act of nature, we need to be careful to avoid loss of lives,” he explained in recommending the suspension of classes.
Ortega said about 141 houses made of light materials and semi-concrete structures were destroyed or damaged.
“The number of houses may increase as the assessment is still going on,” Costes said, adding that the suspension of classes was approved by DepEd Regional Director Maria Rosa Gutierrez.
“We would like to secure the school buildings, we want to ensure our schools are safe, we want to ensure the safety of school children,” he added.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology in Cotabato reported about 97 aftershocks have occurred, the latest of which was at 4:10 a.m. Monday.
A 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit Central Mindanao on Saturday evening and its epicenter was traced 12 kilometers from this town. It was tectonic in origin.
Eight persons were hurt when hit by falling debris inside their homes while two bridges, the Mutian Bridge in Barangay Kimadzil and another bridge in Barangay Kibudtungan, were damaged.
North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza said families whose houses were destroyed or damaged will get financial assistance from the province.
As of 7 a.m. Monday, cargo and heavy trucks like buses were still barred from passing through the Mutian bridge that connects North Cotabato and Bukidnon due to its unstable condition.
“The bridge had sagged about four to six inches and it might collapse,” Ortega said, adding that the provincial engineering office personnel and heavy equipment were still clearing the Sayre highway with soil, boulders and other debris.
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