• Melo Acuna

PH has no request for assistance yet

OCHA reports on Masbate earthquake and other issues

MANILA – The United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the strong earthquake that shook Masbate and its nearby provinces at 8:00 A.M. today was followed by more than 50 shallower aftershocks with a maximum of 4.2-magnitude.

In a statement released at 7:00 P.M. Tuesday, quoted government reports of a fatality and about 25 others injured but Philippine authorities said they are still checking on the residents’ condition as of this writing. The towns of Cataingan with 53,300 residents, Uson with 56,200 inhabitants and Palanas with 26,200 citizens were the most affected. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty incidence in these towns ranged between 39 to 47 per cent but with today’s tremblor, the number is expected to increase.

Houses of light materials collapsed while damage to buildings and roads were also noted. Water, power and communication lines appear to be functioning.

It is common practice for the affected residents to camp outside their residence to ensure the safety of their property and belongings. However, with the rainy season, they may not remain outside their residences and probably return to the unsafe or compromised houses.

However, government authorities reported 59 active COVID-19 cases but without any evidence of community transmission. A big number of the positive cases are people who returned to the province and under quarantine in government facilities. Another problem was the relocation of more than 100 persons under quarantine that need to be transferred to safer structures as cracks were seen in the facility where the people are held on quarantine. Patients from other government hospitals were transferred to safer buildings.

Quoting the Office of Civil Defense, it was learned local disaster response teams were still conducting search and rescue operations assisted by the local Red Cross chapter, the military and the police. Over 22,000 family food packs and non-food items including tents, sleeping kits and kitchen utensils have been prepared. A standby fund worth P3 million or US$62,000 has been prepared to augment the response.

UN OCHA said there is no request for international assistance from the Philippine government because regional authorities “seem to respond to the situation on the ground.”

UN OCHA (OCHA) continues to synchronize with both “national and regional, provincial authorities including humanitarian partners with local presence on the ground” and humanitarian partners with local presence.Initial assessments of the partners to verify the extent of the damage are carefully studied.(Melo M. Ac

Damage to private homes have been reported. (PIA-Bicol Office)

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