PHOTO - Residents carry their belongings as they cross a portion of an earthquake-damaged highway in Tuway village in Negros Oriental province’s La Libertad town on Tuesday. AFP PHOTO

MANILA, FEBRUARY 9, 2012 (MALAYA) BY VICTOR REYES - THE death toll from the magnitude 6.9 quake that hit Negros Oriental Monday rose to 48 yesterday.

Ninety-two are missing, Col. Francisco Zosimo Patrimonio Jr., commander of the Army’s 302nd Brigade based in the province, also said.

President Aquino is flying today, his 52nd birthday, to Dumaguete City, where the quake was felt at Intensity 7 like in Guihulngan City.

He would inspect damaged areas and meet with victims and those involved in relief operations, said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda

The official death toll from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council is lower, at 22, including seven new fatalities.

NDRRMC executive director Benito Ramos, who is in Negros Oriental, said the seven new fatalities died in hospitals where they were brought after they were pinned down by collapsed walls.

[PHOTO FROM ABS-CBN- President Aquino transfers to a waiting helicopter shortly upon arrival in Dumaguete City on Wednesday. Aquino, who is celebrating his 52nd birthday today, will visit areas affected by the 6.9 earthquake that struck last Monday. Photo by Val Cuenca for ABS-CBNnews.com]

The NDRRMC has listed 52 injured before information about the death of the seven in the hospital.

Ramos said the number of missing remain at 71 – mostly victims of landslides in Guihulngan City, which is near the epicenter of the quake, and La Libertad town.

Told about the 48 fatalities reported by the Army, Ramos said he went to the Army brigade headquarters earlier yesterday but they could not give him proof to confirm the figure.

"As I said, if there is no body, there is no fatality. We insist that our official report (of fatality) as of this time is 22," he said.

Patrimonio said his figures were culled from consolidated reports gathered from Guihulngan City, and the towns of La Libertad, Tayasan, Jumalalud and Bindoy.

He also said that the 92 missing include 30 persons reported buried in a landslide in Planas village in Guihulngan City, and 42 buried in a landslide in Solongon village, La Libertad town.

He did not give a breakdown of the dead but he reported on Monday night that 29 of 43 dead as of that time were from the landslide in Planas village. He said 10 more died in other parts of Guihulngan City while two died in Tayasan town and one each in Jimalalud and Bindoy town.

[PHOTO FROM TWITTER - This' what happened in school in MANILA earlier while the EARTHQUAKE hit Cebu. :O Lord Protect us! :))) #usjr http://pic.twitter.com/wgBvI2Dp]

Vice President Jejomar Binay visited the affected areas yesterday, according to Patrimonio, and "we are looking at how to solve as early as possible the power and water problem."

"The problem on water is dependent on electricity. If we have electricity, we’ll have water," he added.

Patrimonio said they are requesting a Navy ship to transport the "needed supplies" in Guihulngan.

He also said there is still no power in Ayungon town, Canlaon City and several other areas.

"Power lines were cut and the repair trucks of the electric cooperative cannot enter because bridges are destroyed and cannot make the repairs. Some electric posts were downed and they have to replace it. But no truck can enter, so that’s the problem," he said.

Many business establishments remain closed although small stores are open.

The Department of Health said at 56 patients of the Guihulngan District Hospital have been forced to stay outside the health facility after it was damaged by the quake.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said 909 aftershocks have been recorded since the quake hit at 11:47 a.m. Monday up to 1 p.m. yesterday.

Phivolcs seismology division OIC Ishmael Narag said the Monday quake was caused by the movement of a "blind thrust fault," which was not visible in the active fault map of Phivolcs.

According to the United States Geological Survey, a blind thrust fault is a fault that does not rupture all the way up to the surface so there is no evidence of it on the ground.

The USGS said that it is "buried" under the uppermost layers of rock in the crust. – With Gilbert Bayoran, Jocelyn Montemayor, Angela de Leon, and Gerard Naval


400 soldiers deployed to quake-hit areas

THE government deployed 400 soldiers to help with rescue operations after an earthquake killed at least 48 people and triggered landslides that left dozens more missing.

A landslide set off by the 6.8-magnitude temblor killed 29 people in Planas village, Col. Francisco Zosimo Patrimonio said. Fourteen died in nearby areas, and 92 people are missing in total, Patrimonio said.

The Philippines has been battered by natural disasters in recent months, killing dozens of people and sparking criticism of President Benigno Aquino’s handling of the crises.

The latest deaths could revive charges that the government hadn’t planned for such emergencies, Benito Lim, a political science professor at the Ateneo de Manila University, said by phone.

“This government is too reactive instead of anticipating disasters,” Lim said.

“We are considered one of the most disaster-prone areas in the world. We have yet to see a contingency plan to address the problem of natural disasters.”

More than 700 aftershocks have been recorded as of this morning, said Renato Solidum, director of the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. The official death toll from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council was 15, with 71 people missing and 52 injured, according to a government statement.

Tuesday’s deployment doubled the number of troops that were originally assigned to rescue operations after the quake struck Negros and Cebu on Monday. It was the worst disaster to hit the country since tropical storm Sendong killed more than 1,200 people in December.

Mr. Aquino planned to fly to one of the quake-hit areas Wednesday to inspect damage, his spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, said in an e-mail. The military sent five helicopters and two ships to help with relief operations, and the government made an appeal for food and clothing donations, Lacierda said.

“We are in the process of evaluating the damage at the moment,” Mr. Aquino’s spokeswoman Abigail Valte said in a mobile-phone message Tuesday when asked if Mr. Aquino had a disaster- response plan.

“We are prepared to provide whatever assistance is necessary.”

The dead included two children killed after walls collapsed, according to the council.

The casualties might rise as an estimated 72 people were buried by a landslide in La Libertad, Patrimonio said in a mobile-phone message.

Aftershocks slowed rescue operations in the city of Guihulngan, where electricity and water supplies were knocked out, Mayor Ernesto Reyes said by phone.

Workers delivering water and restoring power were also slowed because at least eight bridges were damaged, Patrimonio said.

“The whole mountain collapsed on the residents and they were swept into the river,” Reyes said. “Our problem here is that we don’t have electricity, we don’t have water and we don’t have food. We need medicines.”

Local governments needed to improve disaster management, especially in the landslide-prone areas, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said.

“There should be more regular drills and more intensive assessment on landslide prone areas in case of earthquakes,” Robredo said in an e-mailed statement.

Aftershocks and false information after the quake threw the city of Cebu into a “state of panic,” Mayor Michael Rama said in a phone interview Monday.

“Information spread that seawater reached some parts of the city proper, so many people panicked,” he said.

Offices, schools and malls were shut in most parts of the Visayas hit by the temblor, while power lines were brought down. A 7.7-magnitude quake killed more than 1,500 people in Luzon in July 1990. Bloomberg

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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