Four dead, 60 injured as powerful 7.1 earthquake strikes northern Philippines

By Orowo Victoria Ojieh with agency report

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck the northern Philippine island of Luzon on Wednesday (July 27) killing four people, damaging buildings and sending strong tremors through the country’s capital, Manila.

Two people were killed in Benguet province, one in Abra province, and one more in another province, Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos said at a news conference. Sixty people were injured, he added.

Those killed included a man who was hit by falling cement slabs in his house in Abra, where at least 25 others were injured and were mostly confined in hospitals, officials said.

A construction worker was also hit by debris and died in the strawberry-growing mountain town of La Trinidad in Benguet province, where some roads were shut by landslides and boulders.

The quake struck about 11 km (six miles) southeast of the town of Dolores at a shallow depth of 10 km (6 miles), according to U.S. Geological Survey data.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, whose home town is in the northern Philippines, ordered rescue and relief teams to be sent to Abra, and was initially planning to fly to the affected area, but later said he wouldhold off on the trip so as not to disrupt the emergency response.

“Despite the sad reports about the damages caused by the earthquake, we are assuring quick response to those in need and affected by this calamity,” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Facebook.

The quake hit close to Marcos family’s political stronghold. Director of the state seismology agency, Renato Solidum told DZRH radio station, strong aftershocks were expected.

“The focus of attention is on Abra and nearby provinces. This is a major earthquake,” Solidum said.

The interior Secretary said 173 buildings were damaged and fifty eight landslides reported, with forty four of the sixty injured in Abra province.

A hospital in Abra province was evacuated after the building partially collapsed but there were no casualties reported there, officials said.

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Joy Bernos, Abra’s vice governor posted photos of the damaged Abra hospital on her Facebook account, which showed a gaping hole in its facade.

Other photos showed hospital beds, including one with a patient, being wheeled across a road and evacuated hospital staff.

The Philippines Red Cross said its teams on ground were assessing damage in the affected communities. Abra, home to nearly 250,000 people, is a landlocked province in the northern Philippines. Its deep valleys and sloping hills are enclosed by rugged mountains.

In Manila, service on the city’s metro rail systems was temporarily suspended after the earthquake, while the Senate and many high-rise office buildings and residential towers were also evacuated.

Wednesday’s earthquake brought back memories of an earthquake in the country in 1990 that left more than 1,600 people dead. The casualty count this time may not be as high, but property damage may be just as
massive as in 1990.

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