CATIGBIAN, Bohol -- Three new, deep sinkholes alarmed some residents in Catigbian town, where the earthquake last October 15 either damaged or destroyed more than 4,000 houses.
As of Wednesday, the quake’s toll reached 198 dead, 651 injured and more than P1.2 billion worth of public infrastructure damaged in Bohol Province.
Government agencies and private sector organizations from Bohol, Cebu and other parts of the country continued to deliver food packs and other relief goods to the province.
In the remote barangays of Bagtic, Hagbuaya and Cambailan in Catigbian, residents kept a wary eye on the new sinkholes and large cracks.
“I have directed barangay officials to evacuate families living near the sinkholes and cracks,” Mayor Virgilio Lurot said.
In Cambailan, the sinkhole was deep enough to swallow fully grown gemelina and coconut trees on the farm of Fortunata Agad, 81.
Her daughter, Aquilana Catad, said that one of their workers, Toribio Balmera, saw the hole, about 40 feet deep, when he went looking for the trees.
“Naigking siya sa kadako sa bangag ug ang mga kahoy tua na sa ubos (He was shocked to see how large the hole was, with the trees already at the bottom of it),” she said.
Running blue-green water was visible below the surface.
Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu, where three new sinkholes were reported after the October 15 quake, has decided to send cash assistance to the Bohol Provincial Government for relief operations.
The Lapu-Lapu City Council approved on Wednesday a resolution giving P1.5 million cash aid to Bohol. The City and the Red Cross also set up a donation booth at the City Hall lobby.
In Mandaue City, Mayor Jonas Cortes issued a memorandum urging City Hall employees to donate cash or goods for the earthquake victims.
One of the challenges donors face is delivering help to remote barangays.
Bagtic, for example, is about 10 kilometers from Barangay Poblacion. A wooden bridge leading to the village was closed yesterday for repairs.
Mayor Lurot initially pegged the damage to government structures like buildings, roads and bridges at P100 million.
He said the council approved the use of the town’s P3-million calamity fund to help some 5,130 families displaced by the quake.
A national agency, he said, gave P10,000 to the families of the five persons who died in Catigbian because of the quake.
At least 1,188 houses were destroyed in the town and 2,837 others were damaged, according to a bulletin by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Mayor Lurot said only three sinkholes were reported to him, but inspectors are still surveying the town.
The cracks observed are similar to the cracks found by a team from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) in the mountain barangay of Anonang, Inabanga.
In Bagtic, Catigbian, barangay councilor Ramon Janohan said the first sinkhole is about 60 feet deep. He also said they found a second sinkhole, about 40 feet deep.
Petronilo Silagan, 52, said the earthquake split his small farm in Bagtic. A portion in his farm now has a small hole.
A team led by Inspector Rufo Potane, Catigbian’s acting police chief, cordoned off the crack that almost swallowed the house of Felix Ale, 62.
The police official then explained to the residents that there is no way to prevent an earthquake and that rumors of an 8.0 magnitude quake are false. He also assured them that the aftershocks will continue to be weaker than the 7.2 magnitude quake.
“Wala na gyu’y kusog pa ato. Di jud paduol sa bukid (Don’t live near the mountain),” he said. Potane was assigned in the police station in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental when the province was hit by a quake in February last year.
In Cebu, Lapu-Lapu Mayor Paz Radaza, in a press conference Wednesday, said she might go to Bohol to give the amount to Governor Edgar Chatto and find out what other assistance the City can offer.
“It is up to Governor Chatto how to use the money. I trust him. I’ve known him to be a fair person,” she said.
Apart from a sinkhole that displaced eight families, the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Cebu and Bohol did not cause serious damage in Lapu-Lapu, said Radaza.
The sinkhole in Sitio Kapayas, Barangay Canjulao has been cordoned off.
In Mandaue, Mayor Jonas Cortes urged employees to donate drinking water, canned goods, rice, biscuits, toiletries, laundry products and other goods.
The City Social Welfare Office (CSWS) set up a donation booth at the City Hall grounds. The booth will accept donations until October 30.
CSWS head Violeta Cavada also urged the public to donate candies. “Para pud malipay ang mga bata (It will make the children happy),” she said.
Those who want to give cash can hand the donation to designated personnel of the Kaabag Foundation, which will issue a receipt to the donor.
The foundation will also ship 250 bags of rice and canned goods to Bohol.
Meanwhile, the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) donated P2 million to earthquake survivors in the provinces of Cebu and Bohol.
In a press statement, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said that the MCIAA Board of Directors met last October 17 and approved the release of P1 million each to the two provinces, for relief operations.
“I commend MCIAA for this generous act at this critical time, and I hope this inspires others to help out as well,” DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya said.
The League of Mayors of the Philippines (LMP) Visayas Chapter, with the support of LMP National President Sandy Javier, raised 24,000 liters of bottled water and 12,000 packs of goods (sardines, noodles and rice) for the earthquake victims in Bohol.
Javier and Mayor Democrito Diamante of Tuburan, the LMP-Cebu Chapter president, went around Bohol in a helicopter last October 21 and 22 to survey the extent of the damage.
In an interview, Diamante said that the mayors’ league did not include in the fund-raising the mayors in Cebu because they, too, have to attend to the needs of their constituents who suffered from the earthquake.
But he said they are going back to Bohol tomorrow so they can ask for help from the mayors of the towns that were not affected by the calamity.
Meanwhile, the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) deployed a team of relief volunteers to the earthquake-hit provinces of Cebu and Bohol to aid relief operations in these areas.
SRC has sent a first tranche of relief items worth $100,000. These include food, basic hygiene and medical supplies.
The SRC doctor volunteers in Tagbilaran City assisted local surgeons in conducting surgical procedures. They joined the Philippine National Red Cross in the Municipality of Loon to help set up an advance medical post.
In Bagtic, Catigbian, earthquake survivors usually have to get the donations in Barangay Baang, three kilometers away.
On the ground near the tents and outside the residence of Juliana Muñez, the residents arranged hollow blocks to form a word, in block capitals: “HELP.” (Sun.Star Cebu)