Masbate quake death toll rises to 2, hundreds injured as aftershocks rock Cataingan town

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A house in Cataingan, Masbate collapses following a magnitude 6.6 earthquake on Tuesday morning.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 19) — Another Masbate resident died while hundreds more were injured after a magnitude 6.6 earthquake hit Cataingan town, followed by a string of aftershocks, a lawmaker from the province said Wednesday. 

Citing a report from the provincial governor, Congressman Wilton Kho of Masbate's third district said another resident died of heart attack due to Tuesday morning's earthquake and the aftershocks experienced since then, with shaking felt in nearby provinces. 

This brings the death toll to two, the first casualty being retired policeman Gilbert Sauro who died after his home in Barangay Concepcion in Cataingan collapsed. The town experienced Intensity 7 or "destructive" temblor, which Phivolcs officials said was strong enough to topple big pieces of furniture and cause poorly-built homes to crumble.

The quake also left 170 people injured, with 67 patients coming from Cataingan. Kho reported that 18 of them are in the hospital for treatment, while other patients were from nearby municipalities.

​The first official report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) issued Wednesday counted one dead and 48 others injured so far. There were also 14 houses totally damaged, with 12 of them in nearby Palanas town.

Some 319 evacuees have also been reported, as families chose to leave their homes due to falling debris and reported liquefaction or softened ground, Kho said. Local authorities are still verifying reports that up to 6,000 residents need to be evacuated.

"Sa ngayon kasi, hindi pa nagno-normalize ang buhay namin dahil halos every hour or every 30 minutes, naga-aftershocks. 'Yung mga kababayan ko, medyo kabado pa po sila. Ayaw pa bumalik ulit sa bahay," Kho told CNN Philippines' Balitaan.

[Translation: For now, life has not normalized because every hour or every 30 minutes, there are aftershocks. My fellow residents are still nervous and they do not want to return to their homes yet.]

RELATED: Magnitude 5.1 aftershock jolts Masbate town

​State seismologists recorded more than 100 aftershocks since yesterday, all relatively weaker compared to the Tuesday morning tremor. A strong magnitude 5.1 quake shook Cataingan at 5:50 a.m. Wednesday.

Patients as well as locally-stranded individuals staying at the Cataingan District Hospital and the local astrodome and municipal college had to be evacuated due to partial damage in the structure, NDRRMC said. Another municipal building was also seen with a collapsed first floor.

The lawmaker appealed for donations of relief goods to temporarily support residents, citing they would also need help in repairing homes and structures.

There are close to 600 partially damaged buildings in Masbate, which include public school buildings, roads, bridges, and parts the Cataingan port. Meanwhile, six structures totally collapsed in the epicenter of the earthquake.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has pledged that Malacañang will help Masbate recover, even saying that President Rodrigo Duterte wants to visit but is unsure due to the pandemic.

READ: Duterte in ‘perpetual isolation,’ undergoes regular COVID-19 RT-PCR tests — Palace

"I’d like to assure our Masbateño brothers and sisters that help has been prepositioned and further assistance is on the way," Roque told CNN Philippines' The Source, saying food packs, water, blankets and other materials needed for resettlement areas will be provided by the national government.

Kho also said the province received a ₱25-million response fund to aid earthquake victims following a call between his father Masbate Governor Antonio Kho and Senator Bong Go.

​The NDRRMC added that the Department of Social Welfare and Development also allotted ₱662.6 million as a standby fund to respond to local needs, as well as 305,063 family food packs.