Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said President Rodrigo Duterte has mobilized all government agencies to respond and provide assistance to the victims of the powerful earthquake that jolted the province of Batanes Saturday morning.

Nograles said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) has been tasked to coordinate efforts to ensure that all the necessary emergency assistance would reach Batanes immediately.

“Time is of the essence here because of inclement weather.”

He noted that food packs that are prepositioned in the capital town of Basco are now enroute to Itbayat town which was hardest hit by the 5.9 magnitude quake.

“There are some concerns about weather conditions, which is why everyone is working double time to make sure that we can immediately provide help to those who are affected by the quake. Time is of the essence here because of inclement weather,” said Nograles.

Nograles said Batanes’s rocky coastal waters are notorious for rough and dangerous waves, making it very difficult to provide relief by sea.

Based on the latest situation reports that have reached his office, Nograles said at least eight people are confirmed dead while 60 others have been reported injured. No major structural damage has been reported so far, except for the Nuestra Señora Del Rosario Church bell tower.

Nograles said that except for the total power shutdown, Itbayat remains fairly accessible for relief operations for the 11 evacuation centers that were set up for the residents.

Itbayat is the country’s northernmost municipality, with a total population of less than 3,000.

Nograles said that based on communication with the Batanes provincial government, those affected by the earthquake need tents, biscuits or bread, portable generators and drinking water.


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