AT LEAST 87 people died, 77 of them in Bohol, when a powerful earthquake struck Cebu and Bohol Provinces, among other areas, at 8:12 a.m. yesterday.
The 7.2 magnitude quake was the third to hit parts of the Visayas in the last 20 months. Its epicenter was in Carmen, Bohol.
Six historical churches in Bohol were also either badly damaged or destroyed. In Cebu City, word quickly spread on social media networks Facebook and Twitter that part of the belfry of the Basilica del Sto. Niño collapsed.
Hospital workers dealt with twin challenges right away: caring for more than a hundred who were injured, while evacuating their buildings as a precaution.
Outside public and private hospitals in Cebu City, doctors and nurses attended to patients on stretchers; at least two women ended up giving birth right outside a government hospital.
Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III reported one death each in Mandaue City, Talisay City and Ronda.
The death toll may increase, said Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, who together with nine legislators declared Cebu Province under a state of calamity in a special session held inside a children’s classroom yesterday. The legislative building was also damaged.
Declaring a state of calamity will give the Province quicker access to its calamity funds, of which some P70 million remain, said Budget Officer Danilo Rodas.
Governor Davide also reported 73 injured persons so far in the province—20 of them in Mandaue, 20 in Toledo, 24 in Pinamungajan, four in Argao, three in Talisay City, one in Dalaguete and one in Ronda.
Deaths in Cebu
Among the 10 people who died in Cebu was a four-year-old girl, identified only as Shiela Mia from Barangay Tajao in Pinamungajan town. She was trampled during a stampede, as people who were lining up to get cash from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program began to panic during the quake.
In Talisay, Lerio Planos was crushed when debris from a two-storey building fell on their white Hi-Ace van. Planos was 28. Three of her companions suffered injuries.
Five people were killed when a portion of Pasil Fish Market in Cebu City collapsed.
Police identified them as Leona Cabarubias, 66, of Barangay Sawang Calero; Rendolino Bondoc, 46, of Barangay Tinago; Alberto Sembreno, 45, of Barangay Buhisan; Conrado Perez; and a certain Roger.
PO1 Reoful Adalim of Cebu City Police Office’s Homicide Section said the victims were running out of the market when they got hit after a canopy gave way.
Sembreno’s partner Josephine, 42, told Sun.Star Cebu that Alberto, a porter, was sleeping outside the market when the quake occurred.
“Nag-inom sad to siya mao wala kamata kay hubog (He didn’t wake up right away, probably because he was drunk),” she said.
Josephine said she last saw her partner at dawn yesterday; she asked for some money for their child’s school fees.
In Barangay Pahina-Central, Cebu City, an ice cream vendor died after suffering a stroke immediately after the quake.
Richie Paul Salma, one of the barangay councilors, identified the vendor as Felipe Ceballos, 60.
As of 5 p.m., there were 54 people brought to the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) after they got injured during the quake. Most of them got hit by debris.
In Cebu Doctors’ Hospital, a fire erupted in the hospital’s rooftop but was quickly put out by the hospital’s engineering department.
A portion of Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral was also damaged.
The quake toppled the Budget Builders Inc. and Antonio’s Place in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City.
Aluminum cladding on the façade of Citylink Terminal also fell.
Three cars parked in front of GMC Plaza Building, across the Plaza Independencia, were also destroyed after being buried under debris.
In the North Reclamation Area, the exterior of Cebu Doctors University was damaged by the tremor; the concrete and other debris fell on some school buses.
Rene Alcuno, the campus’ head of security guards, said it was lucky the students didn’t come to school because of the holiday. They were also having their semestral break, he added.
The Cebu City Council declared the entire city under a state of calamity yesterday afternoon. The City has P202 million in calamity funds for this year.
Councilors postponed their regular session from today to tomorrow; some glass panels in the offices shattered, and the session hall also needs to be checked for damage.
Based on reports from the command center at City Hall, five churches in the city were damaged.
These are the Poblacion Pardo Church, Lourdes Parish Church in Barangay Punta Princesa, Holy Cross Church in Barangay Basak Pardo, Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño and Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
Basilica Rector Fr. Jonas Mejares lamented the incident, saying they were already on the last phase of a rehabilitation of the facade and bell tower.
Parts of the structure were damaged too, he said, when the city was hit by an earthquake in February last year.
In an interview yesterday, Fr. Mejares said there was a mass inside the Basilica when the earthquake occurred. The rumbling drove the churchgoers, candle vendors and some tourists outside.
There would have been more tourists, he said, had it not been a holiday yesterday.
Fr. Mejares no mass will be celebrated inside the Basilica until a structural engineer checks it and declares it safe. Masses may be held instead in the Pilgrim Center, right in front of the church.
Cebu City’s Department of Social Welfare Services (DSWS) said there were 2,000 individuals in Barangay Basak San Nicolas who were evacuated following the earthquake.
They were temporarily housed in the San Nicolas Elementary School. DSWS chief Ester Concha said most were afraid to go home because of the aftershocks.
Several houses collapsed in Barangays T. Padilla, Mabolo and Sawang Calero.
Landslides were also reported in Sitios Puti and Sandayong in Barangay Buhisan and in some areas of Barangays Cambinocot and Agsungot.
The main highway in Boljoon town was blocked by a boulder.
Provincial Board (PB) Member Peter John Calderon said that a crew from the public works department was working to clear the road, and that he hopes it can be reopened to vehicles today.
In yesterday’s session, PB Member Ribomapil Holganza also asked that the board invite some Phivolcs representatives to the next session, to discuss Cebu’s vulnerability to quakes. (Phivolcs stands for the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.)
Magpale said she also learned that Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson was going to send a team to assess the two Mactan-Mandaue bridges.
Davide also announced yesterday that Francis Tolentino, chair of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, offered to send a team to help assess the damage the quake caused.
The governor also convened the Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) yesterday.
Part of the ceiling in the Cebu International Convention Center plenary hall was reported to have collapsed.
Governor Davide, based on a PDRRMC report, said there were landslides reported in Aloguinsan, Ronda, Liloan and five barangays in Argao town.
Also yesterday, the Mandaue City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council passed a resolution urging the city council to declare the city under a state of calamity.
Mandaue Mayor Jonas Cortes led the meeting.
A meat vendor in the Mandaue City Public Market died after a broken glass wall fell on her yesterday.
Jorenda Casul, 42, was declared dead-on-arrival at the hospital.
Mayor Cortes ordered the temporary closure of the public market for further inspection.
Inside City Hall, the ceiling and lights of the session hall were yanked out of place by the tremors. A part of the ceiling of the Mandaue City Cultural and Sports Complex also collapsed.
Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 Director Ador Canlas instructed structural engineer Danny Pasicaran to inspect the two bridges that connect mainland Cebu and Lapu-Lapu.
In Lapu-lapu City, Mayor Paz Radaza ordered an inspection of all hotels, resorts, public school buildings and the market.
The DPWH Engineering District in Lapu-Lapu City reported that both Mactan-Mandaue bridges remained “structurally safe and all national roads in the city did not sustain damage.”
Due to the earthquake, the Talisay City Government, for its part, will not allow its employees to work today, so the city’s engineering department can inspect City Hall.
The accident occurred just as Talisay City was celebrating its annual fiesta in honor of St. Teresa de Avila.
For the family of Lerio Planos, 28, there will be no reason for merrymaking. She was killed when part of a wall fell on the van she was riding.
PO3 Jumyl Ater of the Talisay City Police Station said that Planos, Ibonda Plobel, 27, Rosa Marie Ijalas, 36, and an eight-year-old boy were in the parked vehicle when the earthquake began.
Plobel, Ijalas and the boy suffered injuries, but survived.