02/10/2012, 00.00
PHILIPPINES

Caritas and Catholic Relief Services aid Negros and Cebu earthquake victims

In affected areas, drinking water, food, medicine and tents to house the displaced are scarce. A total of at least 14 thousand families affected by the earthquake. Fund raising begins for emergency response. The dioceses of the region open their doors and provide food and basic necessities.
Manila (AsiaNews) - Caritas has launched an appeal for the Filipino people of the islands of Negros and Cebu, in the center of the country, hit on February 6 last by a magnitude 6.9earthquake. In the areas most at risk, the Catholic body reports that drinking water, food, medicine and tents to house the displaced , are becoming scarce. Many families, in fact, are reluctant to return to their homes, abandoned after the earthquake, preferring to build makeshift shelters in the highlands and the mountainous areas. Local sources also report that, to make matters worse, there is total destruction of the Guihalngan irrigation system. Meanwhile, the official toll of the disaster is 35 dead - but there are many uncertainties about the number of victims - more than 50 wounded and seventy missing persons, many of them buried by avalanches in Guihalngan and La Libertad, eastern Negros.

In the single province of East Negros, 1919 homes were damaged, including 976 destroyed and 943 other partly affected. The estimation of partial damage, which also includes the disruption of roads, bridges and other tracks is around 266 million pesos (almost 6.5 million dollars). At present, the Philippine Civil Protection (Ndrrmc) has set up 30 centers for the displaced, which house 1527 families (about 7500 people), but there are still 20 thousand refugees to settle. In total, there are 14,803 families affected by the earthquake, for a total of 74,017 Filipinos.

Caritas Philippines (Nassa) has sent a report to Caritas International - and also sent a copy to AsiaNews - which explains the work of the Catholic institution. Volunteers work together with members of Diocesan Social Action Centers (DSACs) in the most affected areas, to bring relief to the displaced and provide accurate information on the level of emergency and urgent actions to be taken. Nassa has collected 150 thousand pesos to be distributed through the Diocese to victims, helping to fund raise for the earthquake. Meanwhile, the Diocese of San Carlos provides assistance to 100 families, while that of Dumaguete will accommodate up to 400. But, warn the leaders, more funds and basic necessities are needed, including food and water.

The epicenter was located about 70 miles north of Dumaguete city on Negros island, at a depth of 20 km, the earth began to tremble at about 11:49 am, causing landslides and mudslides. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the tsunami alert for possible storm surges along the east and west coast of Cebu. The earthquake was followed by at least 157 aftershocks, the Philippines is located along the so-called Pacific "ring of fire", characterized by intense volcanic and seismic activity: in 1990 a magnitude 7.7 earthquake killed more than 2 thousand people in Luzon.
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