At least five people have been killed Wednesday by an earthquake measuring magnitude 7 on the Richter scale that has shaken several towns in the northern Philippines and caused landslides and damage to several buildings.
The epicenter of the earthquake is located 335 kilometers north of Manila, while the hypocenter is located ten kilometers deep, according to information from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), which has indicated that the tremor was recorded at about 8.43 am (local time).
In addition, the Office of Civil Defense has detailed that two of the dead have been recorded in Benguet, while the rest have been confirmed in Kalinga, Abra and Cagayan, as reported by the news portal Rappler.
Also, authorities have confirmed at least 64 injured, most of them in the Cordillera administrative region. On the other hand, at the infrastructure level, more than 60 schools have been affected, three bridges damaged, about 430 houses and more than twenty roads.
The Manila authorities have also reported that several subway lines have been temporarily suspended pending inspections to ensure safety.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, known as ‘Bongbong’, has ordered the deployment of rescue and relief teams from the Department of Social Welfare and Development to assist in the search effort. He also plans to travel to the area to assess the damage caused by the earthquake.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) spokesman Mark Timbal has urged the public to “remain vigilant” after more than a dozen aftershocks were recorded, including several of magnitude greater than 4 on the Richter scale.
The delegation of the European Union in the Philippines has conveyed in a Twitter message its “condolences” with the “population affected by the earthquake in Abra.”
For her part, the U.S. ambassador to the country, Mary Kay L. Carlson, has noted that “all her prayers are with those affected in Abra and nearby areas.” “The United States sends its condolences to all those who have lost loved ones,” she said.
The Philippines is located in the so-called ‘Ring of Fire’ in the Pacific, where about 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes occur. The last major earthquake to hit the country took place in 2013 and left more than 220 people dead.
UNICEF OFFERS AID TO AFFECTED CHILDREN
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said earlier Wednesday that it is “prepared” to assist children affected by the earthquake in the Philippines and indicated that its partners are assessing the possible immediate needs of affected communities.
“Initial reports from the epicenter in Abra and nearby provinces confirm damage to homes, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure,” he said in a statement in which he recalled that in any emergency “children are among the most vulnerable populations.”
“Our hearts go out to the affected children and our priority is to ensure that their lives are saved and protected. Children and families may have been displaced and injured as a result of the earthquake and may be in urgent need of shelter, clean water, medical care, protection and psychosocial support,” UNICEF said.
For the UN agency, the earthquake is a “stark reminder of the need to continuously improve emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction in the Philippines, a country prone to typhoons, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.” UNICEF advocates for child-centered disaster risk reduction and for placing children at the center of emergency preparedness and response efforts.