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Elizabeth Edwards
Upper Sixth
West Town

Severe Earthquake Strikes The Philippines

Severe Earthquake Strikes The Philippines

At 03:49 (GMT) this morning, February the 6th 2012, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck the highly populated, central area of the Philippines. The quake occurred 70km north of Dumaguete city on Negros Island at a depth between 20 and 40 km. As of 15:00 GMT at least 15 people have died, including two children, and 29 people are missing according to the government’s disaster management body. Since the first earthquake more aftershocks have been registered, some as strong as 6.2 on the Richter scale. The USGS (United States Geological Survey) predicted that at least 207,000 people would have felt a very strong shaking, meaning that they would have been at high risk during the quake.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology issued a tsunami alert for the area but luckily had called it off by 14:30 local time. However considerable panic was caused by the potential threat of an incoming tsunami for many hours afterwards according to locals.

“Just when I left a restaurant, there came running a lot of people on the street towards uptown. ‘Tsunami’, ‘water’, they shouted and many of the people were youngsters in school uniforms. We ran uptown and many people were crying and there was a lot of panic. Many tried to call their relatives on the cell phone. I was only thinking to get up to a higher place, like the rest of the many thousand people running. It was scary, but also strange’ … ‘When I came up-town I went into a bakery to have a cup of coffee and there was a woman crying, the coffee and the cake came, but the mass of people on the street started to shout and run again and one of the bakers in uniform ran out of the shop too, so I did the same. No coffee or cake. But after some time I started to relax and at last I was told that nothing happened.”

Civil defence operations officer Ver Neil Balaba, based in Cebu, told the BBC. "As of 8pm (local time) tonight we have 10 identified dead and five still unidentified dead and 29 are still missing. The 29 have been identified but they are still missing. Their bodies have not been found." However local reports put the death toll much higher and updated their website at 15:00 GMT stating, ‘military sources have reported that 43 people have been killed. 29 people were killed by landslides and at least 10 by collapsed buildings.’

The earthquake which occurred at 11:49 am local time, in the Negros and Cebu region, and caused great terror in nearby cities, with people rushing out of schools, malls and offices. Many buildings shook violently with their windows smashing and their tiles breaking or collapsing all together. Guihulngan City which has a population of 100,000 has been the hardest hit with a total loss of power and water supply. At present the Negros region which has a population of over 1 million has suspended all work and classes.

By the 7th of February, reported at 06:46 GMT that the official death toll is 15 with 71 people currently missing, mainly as a result of landslides. At least 52 people have been hospitalised with severe injuries. Thankfully since last afternoon the official death toll has not risen above 15, however with the number of people missing on the rise, we must all simply have hope that everyone will be found alive and pray that the survivors are supported and helped after this terrifying ordeal.

10 February 2012

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