Pampanga, hit hardest by quake, placed under state of calamity

PAMPANGA. Rescuers revive an earthquake victim who was pulled out of the collapsed Chuzon Supermarket in Porac, Pampanga last Monday, April 22, 2019. The woman employee was later taken to the JBL hospital for treatment. (Photo by Chris Navarro)

THE Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board) on Tuesday, April 23, declared Pampanga under a state of calamity to enable the provincial government to tap its calamity fund and immediately rebuild after the 6.1-magnitude earthquake last Monday, Vice Governor Dennis Pineda said.

The tremor, which struck at 5:11 p.m., claimed 10 lives, caused the collapse of a four-story commercial building, damaged 10 churches and the Clark International Airport passenger terminal building, and caused cracks on FVR Megadike lahar-catchment facility.

The actual extent of the damage to public infrastructure and private properties is still under assessment, Pineda said.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimated the epicenter of the quake at one kilometer away from Gutad, Floridablanca town in Pampanga. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), meanwhile, plotted the earthquake at 18 kilometers northeast of Castillejos, Zambales.

Classes in all levels and work in government offices were suspended in Pampanga Tuesday.

Governor Lilia Pineda urged all government building administrators and private building owners to check the structural integrity of their structures.

Her son Vice Governor Pineda, who serves as vice chairperson of the Pampanga Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), said he also asked the mayors of Apalit, Sto. Tomas and Guagua to order the temporary closure of Chuzon Supermarket branches in their towns to give way to structural assessment to ensure public safety.

The Chuzon branch in Porac, which employed more than 90 people, crumbled shortly after the quake, causing the death of at least five people.

Rescuers have retrieved the bodies of five Chuzon workers from the rubble. Eight injured workers have also been pulled out of rubble as of Tuesday morning. Some 22 people have been declared missing.

"We cannot account for all the more than 90 Chuzon workers. We have no information if they managed to run to safety or if they were trapped in the rubbles. We advised the management to make the survivors or their relatives report their situation until a full accounting of people is done," said Pineda, who supervised search and rescue operations until 5 a.m. Tuesday.

At the government-run Ospital Ning Angeles (ONA), a person died of heart attack while another was injured after the earthquake, according to a Facebook post by Angeles City Vice Mayor Bryan Nepomuceno.

"Reporting from the Ospital Ning Angeles: there has been 1 fatality related to the earthquake -- heart attack and 1 critically injured. The rest are minor injuries," Nepomuceno stated.

He also said the local government is inspecting all bridges to ensure the safety of the people.

Nepomuceno met with city engineers who inspected the city hall.

"Angelenos lets stay alert and vigilant just in case of any aftershocks. Have a plan of action. Prepare things you may need. Know the numbers of the emergency services," he said.

The vice governor, meanwhile, thanked several companies and persons for helping respond to the disaster by lending equipment like cranes and giving food. They include the Leadway Construction, Mr. Kim, Board Member Dinan Labung, Angeles Electric Company, North Luzon Expressway, Senator Richard Gordon and the Philippine Red Cross and Bataan Governor Albert Garcia.

"Taos-puso ho ang pasasalamat namin si Governor Pineda sa inyong pagtulong sa aming mga kababayan," he said.


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