Caritas Philippines, the humanitarian arm of the Catholic Church in the country, has deployed teams to assess the damage caused by the 6.4-magnitude quake that struck the northern province of Abra on Tuesday, October 25.
“Our social action centers are already capacitated to act accordingly,” said Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, national director of Caritas Philippines.
“They would know already how to respond immediately,” the prelate told LiCAS News on the sideline of the ongoing general conference of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences in Thailand.
He said that after the initial assessment, the Church will distribute funds to those most affected “because relief goods will take some time to arrive.”
Bishop Bagaforo, however, said they can only offer assistance to those most in need as funds generated by the annual Lenten Alay Kapwa campaign were already used in recent disasters.
He expressed optimism that the faithful will continue to support Church initiatives to help those most in need.
The bishop expressed his sympathies to the families affected by the quake that injured at least six people and caused substantial damage to a hospital and several old churches.
“Our prayers are with the people of the northern Philippines who suffered the brunt of the earthquake,” said the bishop.
Aftershocks continued to rock the northern Philippines early Wednesday, hours after the 6.4-magnitude quake struck the mountain town of Dolores in Abra province.
“We hid under a table and my family only went out of the house after the shaking stopped,” Abra rescuer Ron Sequerra told AFP by telephone, adding his family had been woken by strong ground shaking.
Six people were injured in the Abra town of Lagayan, Sequerra added.
The Lagayan mayor’s office and a high school building were sealed off after they sustained cracks and broken glass windows, according to pictures posted on the town’s official Facebook page.
In the city of Batac in the neighboring province of Ilocos Norte, several patients spent most of the night outside a government hospital after the ceiling collapsed on several rooms and damaged equipment, hospital staff said.
Boulders rolling down a hillside temporarily blocked a road linking Batac to the nearby town of Banna, but rescue officials said the landslide had since been cleared.
A number of old churches in Abra and Ilocos Norte also sustained damage, the civil defense office said.
Ilocos Norte governor Matthew Manotoc declared a school holiday and government workers were told not to report for work as the authorities inspected the integrity of buildings.
In July, a 7.0-magnitude quake also in mountainous Abra province triggered landslides and ground fissures, killing 11 people and injuring several hundred others, according to the official count.
Quakes are a daily occurrence in the Philippines, which sits along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of intense seismic as well as volcanic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin. – with a report from AFP