Quake-hit Ormoc under state of calamity

Photo by ABS-CBN News

Officials have declared a state of calamity in Ormoc, Leyte, one of the worst-hit areas during a magnitude 6.5 earthquake last week, Mayor Richard Gomez confirmed Tuesday.

A state of calamity means local officials can tap emergency funds for the evacuees and impose a price freeze on basic commodities.

“Twenty percent of the calamity fund we can use to buy food, water, materials while, they’re at the relocation site,” Gomez said in an interview with ABS-CBN morning show “Umagang Kay Ganda.”

“The remainder of the funds, we can use to prepare the relocation site.”

Gomez said the quake damaged scores of buildings in Ormoc including 18 classrooms that can no longer be used. At least 100 other classrooms now have cracks on the walls, he added.

A total of 616 families from Barangay Tongonan and Lake Danao, which both straddle the fault line that generated the earthquake, were evacuated to 6 relocation sites.

The mayor said these families would have to be permanently relocated to a safer area.

Thursday’s tremor left 2 dead in the central islands. Its epicenter was traced to Jaro, Leyte about 70 kilometers away from Ormoc.

Ormoc and the nearby town of Kananga, which also declared a state of calamity last week, suffered the most damage to property, state seismologists earlier said.

Leyte and neighboring provinces have since experienced aftershocks, including a magnitude 5.4 quake on Monday morning.

Gomez said the aftershock sent panicked residents scrambling for safer ground.

About 20 students from a school near the city hall, he said, were injured in their rush to evacuate yesterday. Three other individuals in a mountainside village were also injured by falling debris.

“More than 20 students have been given first aid. Three of them who were living in the mountains were rushed to the hospital. Two of them were hit in the head by falling debris, the other, on the back. He can’t walk for now, and is under observation if he’ll ever be able to walk again,” he said.

The Ormoc government has suspended classes in all levels on Tuesday.

Local officials also expect power to be restored in their city later today, Gomez said.

Republished from ABS-CBN News.

*All Filipino quotes translated to English

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