Caritas Philippines appeals for aid for earthquake victims

Prelature of Batanes says it is looking into long-term assistance for effected people
Caritas Philippines appeals for aid for earthquake victims

Several structures in the town of Itbayat were destroyed by twin earthquakes that hit the northern Philippines on July 27. (Photo by Dominic de Sagon Asa) reporter, Manila
July 31, 2019
Caritas Philipines the social action arm of the country's Catholic bishops, has launched a "solidarity appeal" to help the earthquake-hit northern province of Batanes.

Authorities have declared a “state of calamity” in the town of Itbayat following two powerful earthquakes on July 27 that left nine people dead and 63 injured.

Among the structures devastated by the earthquake were centuries-old churches, schools, houses, and other buildings.

Archbishop Rolando Tirona of Caceres, chairman of the social action secretariat of the bishops' conference, said the Prelature of Batanes has limited resources to rebuild them.

Caritas Philippines has already released about US$4,000 to initially help the local church.

Bishop Danilo Ulep of Batanes said the prelature is assisting what the government is doing in terms of rebuilding houses.

"For our part we want to immediately rebuild the church, especially because it's the symbol of unity of our people," said the prelate.

The bishop expressed his gratitude to "kind-hearted people willing to help."

Bishop Ulep said the prelature is focusing on "long-term assistance" for the people as the government is assessing the immediate needs of the community.

The government's National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, however, said transporting relief goods to the island town of Itbayat has been the "main challenge" of the aid agency.

Itbayat on the northern tip of the Philippines can only be reached by boat. The town's airport can only handle small aircraft. Helicopters have to be used to airlift supplies.

Ricardo Jalad of the disaster response office said there are enough food supplies "but the challenge is transportation."

The twin earthquakes have displaced at least 2,963 people, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

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