The death toll in the magnitude 6.1 earthquake that rocked parts of Luzon on Monday has reached 16, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council announced Tuesday.
NDRRMC Executive Director Ricardo Jalad said some 81 people were reported injured and 14 more were missing in Central Luzon.
Of the 16 reported dead, five were from the collapsed Chuzon Supermarket in Porac, Pampanga, seven were from different barangays in the town, two were from Lubao, and one each were from Angeles City and San Marcelino, Zambales.
A total of 29 structures and buildings sustained damage due to the earthquake.
NDRRMC has raised its blue alert status since 7 p.m. Monday and ordered regional DRRMCs to continuously monitor their areas of responsibility.
An estimated 120 families that were affected by the strong earthquake were evacuated and given food following a landslide in Mt. Bimmukel in San Marcelino, Zambales.
Combined search and rescue teams from the military, police, Philippine National Red Cross and workers from the Department of Public Works and Highways were dispatched to the Porac supermarket to help retrieve trapped victims.
So far, at least nine people have been pulled out by rescue workers at the Chuzon Supermarket.
The NDRRMC also said that a total of 155 personnel from the Bureau of Fire Protection along with rescue trucks, fire trucks, and ambulances based in Pampanga were assisting the rescue and response operations in quake-affected areas.
At least 138 personnel from the Philippine National Police; 140 from the Municipal Disaster Office; and 90 troopers from the Philippine Air Force have also provided assistance to quake victims.
Heavy equipment such as backhoes, jackhammers, hydraulics, and cranes was dispatched to the quake-stricken area to speed up the operations.
A 10-man team from the Metro Manila Development Authority said they rescued two more survivors from the Porac supermarket. The MMDA had ordered the deployment of 10 people from its Public Safety Department team to assist the local government and volunteers in their search and rescue operations.
The rescue teams used heavy equipment to clear the area as they continued to search for people trapped inside the collapsed building.
Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo rushed to Porac, Pampanga on Monday night to oversee aid and rescue operations. Arroyo said local officials were doing a good job but expressed grief at the loss of life.
MMDA chairman Danilo Lim, who also heads the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, ordered the inspection of all government buildings and infrastructure in the National Capital Region.
More than 400 aftershocks have been registered since the initial quake, seismologists said.
Scores of rescuers in the town of Porac were using cranes and jackhammers to peel back the pancaked concrete structure of a four-story market building where the Red Cross said 24 people were unaccounted for.
“Every minute, every second is critical in this rescue,” Cris Palcis, a volunteer rescue dog handler, said. “Time is short for the people under the rubble so we have to be quick.”
Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda told journalists that rescuers could still hear at least one person trapped beneath the rubble, but the digging was proceeding delicately to avoid accidentally crushing the survivor.
The quake also damaged several centuries-old churches which were crowded with worshippers in recent days as the majority-Catholic Philippines marked the Easter holiday.
Fr. Roland Moraleja, who is based in Porac, said the 18th-century belfry of the Saint Catherine of Alexandria church collapsed in the quake.
“It was the only part left from the old church,” he said. “The historical value is now gone, but we are hopeful that it will rise again.”
High-rise buildings in the capital swayed after the tremor struck Monday evening, leaving some with large cracks in their walls.
Thousands of travelers were stranded after aviation authorities shut down Clark International Airport.
The quake was centered on the town of Castillejos, about 100 kilometers northwest of Manila, geologists said.
Seismologists put the Monday’s tremor at 6.3 initially but subsequently downgraded it to a 6.1 magnitude.
The initial cost of damage to national roads in Central Luzon caused by the magnitude-6.1 earthquake that struck on Monday is estimated at P200 million, the Department of Public Works and Highways said on Tuesday.
DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, in an interview via Facebook, said the province of Pampanga was badly hit as several roads, bridges, and buildings have been damaged.
Villar added that there was also damage reported at the Mega Dike Access Road in Pampanga and Sasmuan-Lubao Road.
“Those are the two major roads affected by the earthquake. There are three bridges that have been damaged but as of today (Tuesday), these are now passable to light vehicles,” he added.
Villar, together with local DPWH officials, also inspected the Chuzon Supermarket and Porac Church.
“There is significant damage on the Porac Church because the structure is already old and it is not designed to withstand a major seismic event. Damage assessment is ongoing. Up to now, the church remains closed,” he said.
He added the repair of the bridge approach will start on Tuesday.
At the same time, Villar said they are ready to help local governments in addressing concerns on public infrastructure.
He added that inspection teams are currently doing assessments on structures in areas affected by the tremor.
In Dinalupihan-Pampanga, the boundary arch collapsed due to the earthquake, Villar said.
The Provincial Legislative Board on Tuesday declared Pampanga under a state of calamity to enable the province and the people to immediately rebuild structures damaged by Monday’s earthquake.
Villar said DPWH personnel has already cordoned off one lane of UN Avenue to prevent passing vehicles from getting into accidents.
In an interview on GMA 7, architect Jun Palafox said Monday’s quake could be seen as a wake-up call to check the integrity of buildings.
Engineer and architects, especially of high-rise buildings, must review their structural design calculations to make sure that these can withstand strong quakes, he said.
The Department of Energy, for its part, said the energy sector was not greatly affected by the quake.
“We are getting better at resiliency. …The sector was not affected that much,” Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella said when asked about the impact of the quake on Monday that caused power interruptions in Pampanga, La Union, and Bataan.
The provinces of Quezon, Batangas, Camarines Sur, and Sorsogon were also affected but power had been restored.
Fuentebella said there was no damage reported by the oil industry players.
Petron Corp. clarified that there was no fire at its Bataan refinery due to Monday’s quake. Petron said the earthquake “triggered the protective tripping of some units at the refinery and the eventual plant shutdown, which resulted in the usual flaring of gas as required.”
Social media users had initially reported a fire at the refinery.
The National Power Corp., meanwhile, said its dams particularly the Angat and San Roque, did not suffer any damage while its off-grid power plants were not affected by the quake on Monday. The mothballed Bataan nuclear power plant also remained intact with no damage reported. With Maricel V. Cruz and PNA