An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 struck the island of Bohol at 8.12am on Tuesday 15th October. Richard reports...
October 22nd. A week has passed by since Tuesday’s earthquake and the islands of Bohol and Cebu have been declared in a state of calamity. The death toll has reached 190, 11 people are missing and there are over 600 people injured. Most of the casualties resulted from landslides, collapsing structures and falling trees.
There has been extensive damage to infrastructure with a number of roads and bridges being destroyed which is hampering the ongoing relief efforts. Historic churches have not been spared with three churches on Bohol island being totally leveled and a further 15, including two of the oldest churches in the Philippines - the Jesuit built Loboc church and the centuries old Baclayon church being badly damaged. Eight Municipal halls and several schools have also incurred damage as well as a number of hospitals both in Bohol and in Cebu.
The PSHF has an office in Tagbilaran city, the provincial capital. Ireen Ingles, our regional coordinator was at her parents’ home in the centre of the city when the earthquake struck. In the evening, when the power returned, she was able to connect with me on skype and she related to me what had happened. When the earthquake struck, she was sitting in an easy chair watching the morning news on TV. She instinctively jumped up, grabbed the hands of her youngest niece and nephew, Zoei and Zach and ran outside. The quake lasted about 20 seconds. Her family and neighbours were shocked but unhurt.
It turned out the epicentre of the earthquake had been in Sagbayan, an interior town on the island, famous for its nearby ‘chocolate hills’. What was to transpire over the course of the next few days was the extent of the damage throughout the island province and the tragic loss of life. It is fortunate that Tuesday had been a national holiday to observe the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-adha as this meant people were mostly at home; this surely reduced the number of casualties.
One of the towns that incurred the most damage on October 15th is Maribojoc, the home town of Analyn, our office administrator. Analyn Gallibot, currently on maternity leave, was with her parents when the earthquake struck. Our field worker, Phady Aniasco received a text message from her on Friday, stating that her family home was destroyed and that she, Jobert and their baby Alyssa were returning to her in-laws in Jagna. Her parents, sister Richel and her one year old daughter are living in a tent in the town plaza along with other evacuees from the surrounding hills.
Regrettably, roads and bridges are damaged and we can’t visit Analyn’s family as of now. Ironically, it is PSHF who provided a grant in May 2012 to strengthen the foundations of their home, and it is now destroyed. A number of other houses have been destroyed in Maribojoc, including a row of houses which are now ‘floating’ along the causeway.
The PSHF has 218 clients on the island of Bohol with loans for a variety of small businesses and a further 27 students with loans for college education fees. We hope to connect with all these people over the coming month and find out how they are doing. On the neighbouring island of Cebu, we have our Lighthouse Learning Center, a pre-school for children aged 4 to 6. Our teachers held a meeting yesterday and we are pleased to report that our school only incurred minor damage last Tuesday and that classes will resume on November 4th.
22nd October, 2013