Death toll from powerful Philippine quake rises to 10, as rescuers airlift aid

A family sheltering in a modular tent after evacuating from their home in the aftermath of an earthquake in Bangued, the Philippines, on July 28, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

BUCLOC, PHILIPPINES (REUTERS, AFP) - The death toll from a major earthquake in the Philippines rose to 10 on Friday (July 29), after four more bodies were found.

Rescuers in Luba town in Abra province retrieved the remains of the men on a section of road that was buried by a landslide during Wednesday’s (July 27) magnitude 7 quake, the provincial civil defence office said.

Landslides and collapsing structures killed six others in Abra and nearby provinces, the authorities had said previously. More than 150 people were injured.

The powerful quake rippled across the northern provinces of the main Philippine island of Luzon, damaging thousands of homes, as well as toppling buildings and shaking high-rise towers 300km away in the capital Manila.

Emergency responders on Friday airlifted supplies to districts that have been cut off since a powerful earthquake struck the main island of Luzon this week, as residents pleaded for food and temporary shelter.

The military said it deployed personnel and helicopters to distribute relief goods to seven isolated towns in Abra.

Around 3,000 food packs were airlifted to the communities, Mr Romel Lopez, spokesperson for the social welfare ministry, told DZMM radio station.

Residents were still camping out in parks and open spaces in some areas, with their nerves frayed by the regular aftershocks since Wednesday's magnitude 7.1 earthquake that killed six people and injured more than 270 in the northern part of Luzon.

In Abra's Bucloc town, which was cut off until Thursday (July 28) evening, residents were worried about more landslides due to aftershocks and rain, former mayor Gybel Cardenas told Reuters.

The quake damaged nearly 1,600 homes and about 100 pieces of infrastructure, the state disaster agency said, noting there had been more than 1,000 aftershocks with a magnitude ranging from 1.5 to 5.4 recorded so far.

"Our problem is we have yet to receive any assistance. We need food, milk, water and medicines," Ms Gamalea Dimaampao, a resident in Bangued town in Abra, told DZMM radio.

Families, including children, were sheltering under torn tarpaulin sheets, exposing them to the rains, Ms Dimaampao said.

In Lagangilang town, also in Abra, residents asked for temporary shelter and food. "Many families are trying to fit into makeshift tents. Adults sleep while seated while children cry during aftershocks," resident Leonora Baruela told DZMM.

Abra, an area of plunging valleys and rugged mountains that is home to nearly 250,000 people, has accounted for most of the reported landslides and damaged roads since the quake.

The Philippines is prone to natural disasters and is located on the "Ring of Fire", a band of volcanoes and fault lines around the rim of the Pacific Ocean.

Earthquakes are frequent and there are an average of 20 typhoons each year, some triggering deadly landslides.

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