Philippine Red Cross volunteers and staff have been mobilized to assess the damage and respond to immediate needs, following a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck the Philippines on October 15. The US Geological Survey (USGS) reported that the quake’s epicenter was about 1.5 miles south of Carmen, on the island of Bohol.
Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of Philippine Red Cross, said the timing of the quake – on a national holiday – had an impact on casualty figures. “It was a strong quake, but while we expect the number of casualties to increase, it could have been worse if people were going on with their routine weekday activities,” she said. “Today is a national holiday, so most people had not yet ventured out of their homes.”
Immediately after the quake struck, Red Cross chapters in Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental and Siquijor provinces, mobilized their action teams to undertake a quick survey of damage. The staff and volunteers are working in coordination with local disaster response teams.
Structural damage has been reported in Bohol and Cebu provinces, with the most significant problems in urban centres such as Tagbilaran and Cebu.
Additional Red Cross teams from the national headquarters are being deployed to assist. “We are preparing to send members of our emergency response unit from Manila to support our ground teams who are themselves affected,” Pang said. “We recognize that some of our colleagues in the affected areas are likely to be apprehensive because of aftershocks.”
Meanwhile, Philippine Red Cross is actively sending out updates and issuing safety reminders using social media services, including Twitter.
“Our top priority is to save lives and to prevent potential loss of lives that may be caused by aftershocks and collapse of structures whose integrity has been weakened,” Pang said.
The Philippines Red Cross is also continuing to respond to the needs caused by Typhoon Nari which caused major flooding when it passed over the northern section of the country on October 13th.