Aid groups have begun assessing the damage caused by a massive earthquake that shook central Philippines Tuesday morning (Oct. 15).
The 7.2 magnitude temblor hit as the nation was celebrating Eid al-Adha, Islam’s Feast of the Sacrifice. According to the local volcanology and seismology department, it happened at 8:12 a.m.; the epicenter was located in the Bohol province.
The incident, according to a World Vision local official, was unexpected, rattling most people with subsequent aftershocks.
“The quake happened around 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. It’s a national holiday so everyone was so relaxed. It was unexpected,” Maryann Zamora, World Vision field communications specialist in the Visayas region, told Devex. “Houses started shaking violently. It was nerve-wracking. There were aftershocks almost every minute.”
The earthquake, considered to be one of the strongest of late, was felt mainly in the islands of Cebu and Bohol, two of the biggest provinces in central Philippines. It joins a long list of disasters the country has endured this year.
According to Zamora, roads and bridges were impassable in Bohol, where old churches, seen as precious heritage sites, were also severely damaged. The province was also experiencing a series of power outages, Communication lines were also affected.
National media outlets have reported 20 deaths so far.
“We’re actually monitoring the staff in Bohol but there are staff who we can’t contact,” she told Devex. “We are closely monitoring staff in Tagbilaran. Bohol is experiencing power outage. Cebu experienced outage for the first two hours.”
As of this writing, police officials were roaming around the vicinity of Cebu and Bohol to advise and tell people to stay in safe areas, said Zamora, as several buildings were showing huge cracks that may lead to collapse.
Government and humanitarian organizations are now gauging the scale of the damage. Zamora said they are hoping the government will release an advisory soon to complement her organization’s own assessment of the situation.
“We are assessing the areas and see how we can respond to it. World Vision in Cebu is still assessing the situation right now including the extent of damage,” Zamora said. “As of the moment we cannot speak on the amount of aid we will need. What we need now is prayer.”
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