Search on for Philippines quake survivors
07 February 2012, 11:02
Dumaguete - Rescuers in the Philippines dug through
rubble with their bare hands and shovels on Tuesday after a powerful
earthquake triggered landslides, collapsed homes and killed dozens of
The 6.7-magnitude quake hit a narrow strait between the
heavily populated islands of Negros and Cebu around lunchtime on Monday,
and a terrifying stream of aftershocks that authorities said could last
for weeks added to the mayhem.
Local military chiefs said 43
people were confirmed killed, but officials warned dozens of others were
believed to be injured or missing in mountainous areas that had been
cut off from rescue workers.
"Heavy equipment we've requested
from the provincial government has not arrived yet, because the roads
and bridges are impassable," said Senior Inspector Alvin Futalan, police
chief of Guihulngan town on Negros, which was heavily damaged.
"We are using our hands and shovels to search in the rubble," he said.
people were reported killed in Guihulngan, a coastal city of 100 000
people flanked by mountains that was close to the quake's epicentre.
city's public market, court house and private homes in the area had
collapsed or were damaged, while landslides buried some houses
completely, according to Fatulan.
He said the city's overwhelmed
42-man police rescue squad had been joined by hundreds of army troops
and volunteers in clearing debris as they raced against time to find
people still believed missing.
"The army [troops] had to walk about 50km from the last stop reachable by vehicle to reach us," Fatulan said.
is about 90km to the north of Dumaguete, the capital of Negros Oriental
province that covers the southeastern edge of Negros where the worst
impacts of the quake were felt.
An AFP correspondent travelling
to Guihulngan from Dumaguete witnessed families in makeshift tents
standing in shock outside their homes and refusing to go back inside in
fear of aftershocks.
State seismologists said more than 700
aftershocks battered Negros during the 20 hours following the initial
quake, first measured by the US Geological Survey at 6.8.
Death toll expected to rise
Manila, the national government's disaster office said its death toll
was 15, with 29 missing and 52 injured, but acknowledged it had not yet
been able to verify reports from local authorities as to the extent of
With rescuers still to reach remote hinterland
communities, Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo said he feared there
could be more unreported casualties.
"Sadly, we expect the death toll could still rise," Degamo said.
Francisco Zosimo Patrimonio, commander of the Army's 302nd Brigade in
Negros, said a landslide buried dozens of houses in another town near
"Local officials there have a minimal estimate of 40
adults missing [with the] number of children missing undetermined," he
Telephone communications in some parts of Negros were also
cut off, leaving information from remote regions unobtainable, according
to Degamo, the governor.
Cebu, the Philippines' second biggest
city with 2.3 million residents and a popular tourist destination, was
50km from the epicentre and shook violently during the initial tremor
but no deaths were reported there.
The Philippines sits on the
Pacific "Ring of Fire" - a belt around the Pacific Ocean where friction
between shifting tectonic plates causes frequent earthquakes and
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