This past Sunday, the Philippine island of Mindanao became the land of earthquakes all over again. A major tremor of magnitude 6.9 shook the province of Davao del Sur and its neighbors to a degree that recalled the earlier October quakes which hit Cotabato province. Structural damage was extensive, if not devastating in degree, but the earthquake that arrived in the afternoon of December 15 did cause some casualties of note, victims of either a collapsed house near the epicenter or a collapsed grocery store in the municipality of Padada. As of this Tuesday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council has pegged the latest number of deaths and injuries.
According to Inquirer.net, the NDRRMC has recorded seven fatalities so far as a result of the magnitude 6.9 earthquake that originated from near Matanao in Davao del Sur. The deaths have been reported in that province and in Davao Occidental, while an added 49 people were said to have been injured. A significant number of the fallen were from Padada town, those who were caught up in the collapse of the Southern Trade grocery store. Tragically, one of them was store employee Emily Gallegos, who managed to send a text message to her family about her situation, but died of her wounds before being found.
Gallegos, who lived in Sulop municipality, failed to exit her workplace before it fell on top of her and several shoppers. Pinned under debris, she was able to send her text message by phone to relatives early the following day, Monday December 16 at 4 AM. Her only transmission mentioned four others trapped close to her. But Gallegos failed to respond to any further replies from her worried family, and her dead body was found by rescuers from Davao City’s Rescue 911 on Monday evening.
In the meantime, there are about 1,961 families with a total of 9,755 individuals that have been displaced from no less than 12 Davao del Sur barangays according to the NDRRMC. A follow-up report notes that these displace families have been divided up into 13 designated evacuation centers around the province. From Davao del Sur to neighboring Sarangani, there have been about 11 partially damaged school buildings and seven completely destroyed buildings, part of a grand total of 36 public structures to receive damage from this latest earthquake. Aftershocks were logged at a total of 556 on Monday alone, though only 55 of them were strong enough to be felt.
Image courtesy of CNN Philippines