Dozens killed in massive Philippines earthquake
At least 107 people killed; priceless buildings damaged
A massive 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the Visayas region of the Philippines. Dozens are reported killed, and centuries-old structures have been damaged in the central part of the country.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, who is also the chairman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council says it's likely there were no immediate reports of mass casualties as Tuesday was a national holiday.
"There is no convergence of crowds, particularly in the churches that collapsed. Had this happened on a Sunday, especially the time was 8:00, then this [would be] another story," Gazmin says. The council will confirm additional deaths and injuries.
There were "still a lot [of injured people] coming in" to hospitals in Bohol, according to Director Carmencita Banatin said. All government hospitals in the worst hit region remain on high alert. Adding to the ongoing chaos are the hundreds of powerful aftershocks which has forced many people here to sleep outdoors, including patients at some hospitals.
Structural damage includes the breaking off the bell tower at one of the country's oldest churches, the Basilica Minore del Santo Niņo de Cebu. Standing since it was built in 1735, social media photos posted by nearby residents showed several other centuries-old churches in Bohol and Cebu reduced to rubble.
Cebu City Hall was also partially damaged. Major bridges and some roads were broken. The Mactan-Cebu airport suffered cracks in the ceiling and was temporarily closed with some flights canceled.
Military officials told the council they had pooled personnel whose expertise was in structural damage to help with search and rescue operations.
There were two incidences of people panicking during the earthquake. People waiting in line to receive their regular government stipends turned into stampedes. Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman says one such stampede killed a four-year-old girl when she was separated from her mother.
Institute of Volcanology and Seismology Director Renato Solidum did not issue a tsunami warning because he said the quake's epicenter was on land. The quake happened on a shorter fault line and that it was not near any other fault lines.
"Just remember that faults in the Philippines move on their own. So it might happen that there could be one that moves. So we just need to be prepared always," said Solidum said.
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
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