Batanes quakes: Rescue efforts continue as eight confirmed dead

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Batanes quake
The Santa Maria de Mayan Church in Itbayat was severely damaged by today’s Batanes quakes.

Eight people were killed and dozens injured when a series of earthquakes struck Batanes province, damaging a church, school and hospital.

Authorities said some of the dead, including two babies under a year old, were crushed by the walls of their own homes.

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Many people were still asleep when the first quake — magnitude 5.4 — struck at 4.16am today (Saturday, July 27). This was followed by a 5.9 tremor at 7.37am and a 5.8 at 9.24am. Smaller quakes followed throughout the day until a 4.9 struck at 6.11pm. 

In all, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) recorded 22 quakes in the most northerly islands of the Philippines as of early evening.

Raul de Sagon, mayor of Itbayat town — which was hardest hit by the quakes — has confirmed that eight people had been confirmed dead and about 100 injured.

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Itbayat District Hospital was damaged and patients had to be evacuated. At least one school and the historic Santa Maria de Mayan Church were also heavily damaged.

Rescue operations are continuing. The provincial government has dispatched food supplies, medicine and volunteers to the town. Severely injured residents have been airlifted to safety.

The town is continuing to suffer a power outage due to underground power lines being damaged.

Officials have said that initial reports of damage at the Itbayat Jorge Abad Airport were incorrect.

In a statement issued today, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said: “The president has been briefed on the situation and he directed all agencies to respond and undertake measures to provide assistance to the victims of this force majeure and rehabilitate the damaged properties in the areas. 

“Responsible instrumentalities of the national government, such as the Office of Civil Defense, are continuously coordinating with distressed local government units, including the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in Batanes, as relief operations are going on and in full swing.

“We ask affected constituents to remain calm as we urge them to remain vigilant and cooperative to government response and relief teams.” 

Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum has warned residents that further aftershocks were likely.

The country’s most recent deadly quake occurred in April when at least 11 people were killed and a supermarket collapsed in a 6.3-magnitude tremor that hit near Angeles City.

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