(AsiaNews) - "We are very grateful to our beloved Pope Francis for the
prayers, the closeness and solidarity he expressed to the people affected by
the earthquake in the Philippines," Fr Edwin A. Gariguez
told AsiaNews. The clergyman is the
executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and
Peace (NASSA) of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), a
leading player in relief efforts on behalf of earthquake victims.
On 15 October, a
magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit the central Philippines (Central Visayas).
About 186 have been killed so far but that number could top 200. Many
buildings suffered serious damage, including many old churches dating back to
the Spanish colonial era that are part of the country's most important architectural
The death toll from the powerful earthquake that jolted Central Visayas last
week include 173 people in Bohol, 12 in Cebu and one in Siquijor, the National
Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said on Monday.
The deadly earthquake affected more than three million people in eight
cities and 52 towns. Damages are
estimated at P 867.24 million (US$ 18.5 million), including 39 bridges, 18 main roads and 45,641 houses.
In Cebu, the provincial government issued a
statement that rumours about a pending magnitude 8 earthquake are not true. On its
official Facebook page, provincial authorities
warned residents to ignore baseless rumours that could cause panic, urging them
instead to remain alert because of the continuing aftershocks. Since the main
quake struck, some 2,000 tremors have been recorded so far.
to AsiaNews, NASSA executive
secretary Fr Gariguez,
who is also coordinator for relief operations, expressed gratitude towards Pope
Francis, who after
yesterday's Angelus expressed his "closeness to the people of the
Philippines", and called on believers "to
pray for that dear nation, which has recently undergone several disasters."
words of concern and solidarity," the priest said, "encourage us to work together
even more in order to help those in need." In
this respect, he added, "the pope's words are of great help and
in co-operation with Caritas Internationalis, scores of Catholic volunteers have
been involved in emergency work. In parallel, a campaign has been underway through
the country's dioceses to collect aid to help residents get back to a normal