Home Missions Charity Charity News Aftershocks, landslides threaten quake victims in Ormoc

Aftershocks, landslides threaten quake victims in Ormoc

Friday, 14 July 2017 11:11 AM | ARTICLE BY | Jamaica Digo
Tzu Chi volunteers comfort a father and his daughter who are leaving their home in Barangay Danao following the aftershocks and the threat of landslides in their village. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

Story Highlights

  • Tzu Chi volunteers continue with their assessment of the 6-.5 magnitude’s earthquake’s worst-hit communities in Ormoc City, Leyte on July 12. They visited Barangay Danao and Barangay Gaas and saw how the rainy weather and the aftershocks that still rock the province is posing threats to the safety of the residents in these mountain villages.

Nearly one week has passed since a magnitude 6.5 earthquake rocked the Leyte province but for the victims, the nightmare has yet to end as aftershocks continue to jolt them.

On July 10, a 5.8-magnitude tremor hit Ormoc City. It was the strongest aftershock of the Leyte quake. To date, more than 600 aftershocks were recorded by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) since the July 6 earthquake.

In Barangay Gaas, a community that sits on the foot of a mountain, the tremor injured three children.

“The kids were holding their classes here when the earthquake happened,” recalls the village chief Marjun Magno whose house served as temporary classroom for the students after the first earthquake. “Two of the kids were brought to Gatchalian [Hospital] while the other will be sent to Cebu after sustaining damage on the spine.”

In Barangay Danao, Jayson Monares and his father refused to evacuate when the ground first shook. However, the second tremor made the crack on the side of the mountain near their village deeper. Add the fact that the region has been experiencing a rainy weather in the past days and the family is finally convinced to leave behind their homes.

They are not the only one, though. Majority of the houses in Danao and Gaas is now abandoned. Homes, made of concrete, used to be filled with warm laughter and love. Now, they are nothing more than rubbles.

“What we fear most is the possibility of a landslide,” says Jayson. “If this mountain, which already has deep cracks, collapse and slide into our village, we are sure many people will die.”

Susan Papillero has started packing what she has saved from her family’s belongings to take to the evacuation center. As painful as it was to leave behind the place where she grew up and raised her own children, her family’s safety should come first.

“We are leaving the village because the ground has a lot of cracks already and our homes are all destroyed. We are constantly worried. Although the situation in the evacuation area is difficult, what’s important is that our family is together and safe,” says the 30-year-old mother.

In both villages, an open and grassy ground serves as evacuation area for the residents. As many as nine families are sharing makeshift tents in Barangay Gaas.

In such a place, Lorena Caagoy laments that a thin tarpaulin is the closest thing they have for a bed. She is also worried about the health of the children in her family as well as the condition of her 59-year-old father who suffers from arthritis. His knees have grown swollen and the cold weather only doubles his suffering.

“What we need right now are medicines and beds, and how we can recover from this disaster. We are scared that we might get sick because of the situation here,” says Lorena, 41.

As part of their assessment of the situation in the worst-hit communities, Tzu Chi volunteers visited the two villages on July 12. Reaching the communities was not easy especially with the landslides and cracks in the road. At one point, the van that the volunteers were riding fell into a crack on the road. However, the volunteers’ determination to reach out to the quake victims in these isolated communities surpasses any challenge that they encountered.

“We really hope that we can gather more information and send it back to our branch office in the Philippines and our main office in Taiwan to give our Master Cheng Yen a clear view on how we should respond. Coming here is also a way of us to bring the blessings of the Master to these people and to comfort them at this very critical moment,” says Tzu Chi volunteer Michael Siao.

Last Updated: Friday, 14 July 2017 11:11 AM

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