Home Equality & Justice Thirst threatens Mindanao's earthquake survivors

Thirst threatens Mindanao’s earthquake survivors

Survivors of a strong earthquake that hit the southern Philippine province of Davao del Sur and surrounding areas are appealing for help, especially water.

At least nine people were reported killed, scores injured, and thousands more displaced after the 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit the province on Dec. 15.

It was the fourth earthquake above magnitude six to have hit the region in the past two months, leaving a trail of destruction in the provinces of Davao del Sur and North Cotabato.

Some 47,600 houses were destroyed in the first three earthquakes that hit the area in October.

Survivors, who are still reeling from the impact of the previous disasters, are once again appealing for clean water, food, and tents for temporary shelters.

Thousands of villagers have been forced to sleep in makeshift tents outside their homes and in evacuation centers as strong aftershocks continue to rattle the region.

In the coastal town of Padada in Davao del Sur province, people are appealing for clean water after the earthquake crippled waterlines. 

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Residents are lining up along the highway, hoping for water donations from passing commuters.

Residents from the coastal town of Padada in the southern Philippines stand by the roadside waiting for water rations after a strong earthquake destroyed the town’s water lines. (Contributed photo)

“What is needed most is water, then food and makeshift tents,” said Kausin Gerbolino, who walked all the way from his village to plead for water on the roadside.

He said coastal villages in his town are far from the main highway, making it difficult for relief aid to reach the people.

The situation in Padada worsened after authorities decided to close the town’s only market after it sustained major damage.

Residents of Magsaysay town, also in Davao del Sur, also appealed for water after the town’s water pipes were cut.

Anthony Allada, the town’s information officer, said engineers were able to set up temporary water sources from natural springs after October’s earthquakes, but they were destroyed in the latest disaster.

“The waterlines are destroyed again,” he said, adding that water from deep wells is not safe to drink because it became muddy after the recent earthquake.

“We are appealing for more help, especially water, because we just don’t need it for drinking, but also for cooking and sanitation,” he said.

As of Dec. 18, the government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that the most recent earthquake had left nine people dead, one missing, and 111 others injured.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development also reported that the recent tremor affected at least 100,000 people in Davao region alone, at least 37,000 of whom are in Padada town.

A total of 41 public structures were damaged, most of which were destroyed. At least six churches have been reported destroyed by the tremor.

Authorities said 700 aftershocks had been recorded as of Dec. 17, of which 295 were plotted and 70 were felt.

Catholic Church leaders earlier appealed for donations and prayers for the earthquake victims.

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