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Thousands seek shelter after quake hits central Philippines

Relief efforts ongoing in Leyte province after temblor destroys hundreds of homes

Thousands seek shelter after quake hits central Philippines

Hundreds of residents affected by a 6.5 magnitude earthquake in hinterland villages of Ormoc in the central Philippines continue to live in makeshift shelters. (Photo courtesy of Father Larry Lorenzo)


Joe Torres, Manila

July 13, 2017

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A week after a 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit the central Philippine province of Leyte, hundreds of residents continue to live in temporary shelters.

The government has already placed the city of Ormoc and the town of Kananga, the two most badly hit areas, under a state of calamity.

Two people were reported killed, while more than 300 were injured.

While donations continue to pour in, church leaders at the forefront of relief efforts worry about the displacement of communities.

"Some communities have to be permanently relocated especially those living along ridges, cliffs, and around the lake," said Claretian Father Larry Lorenzo.

Authorities said some 400 families in the village of Lake Danao will have to be moved permanently to another area. 

The evacuation of all residents in the villages of Lake Danao and Tongonan in the hinterlands of Ormoc has been recommended because the areas are directly over a fault line.

The social action arm of the Palo Archdiocese reported that more than 500 individuals continue to stay in a "tent city" around Lake Danao.

The church relief organization Caritas listed at least 3,995 families affected by the earthquake. Some 995 houses were totally destroyed while another 2,328 were partially damaged.

Strong aftershocks following the July 6 earthquake continue to be recorded in the area, causing panic among residents.

"We are pitching tents on open ground," said Father Lorenzo. "I woke up due to a strong tremor at one in the morning," he told

Father Alcris Badana, head of Caritas Palo, said they are worried about people living in makeshift shelters.

"One problem is sanitation... There are no toilets in the tent city," said the priest, adding that it would take some time to build a relocation site.

"These people will not be returning to their homes, it's no longer safe," said Father Badana.

He said aside from food items, affected residents also need hygiene kits and additional shelter repair kits, "and of course, medical assistance, that's the most important."

Apple Anido Alagon of the civic group Rotary Club of Ormoc said aside from food, her group also distributed solar lamps, especially in hinterland villages.

Father Lorenzo said people in Ormoc were "very generous" and helped with relief efforts during the first days after the disaster.

The magnitude 6.5 earthquake hit areas that were only beginning to recover from the devastation caused by super typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

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