By Martin Sadongdong
Continuous disaster response operations were being conducted by the Philippine Army (PA) in Surigao del Sur Monday after a magnitude-5.5 earthquake hit the province over the weekend.
In a statement Monday, the Philippine Army said the Disaster Response Team (DRT) of the 36th Infantry (Valor) Battalion (36IB) was immediately activated to attend to the needs of the victims.
The quake, which occurred at 4:42 a.m. Saturday, brought massive destruction in six municipalities namely Carrascal, Cantilan, Madrid, Carmen, Lanuza and Cortez. The epicenter was recorded seven kilometers east of Cararscal town, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (NDRRMO).
According to NDRRMC Executive Director Ricardo Jalad, the number of injured victims reached 52.
Of the victims, 43 were given first aid treatment, four were admitted at the Madrid District Hospital, three were referred to Adella Serra Ty Memorial Medical Center in Tandag City, while one each was treated at Lanuza Rural Unit and at a center in Surigao City.
Pictures from the Army’s 36th Infantry Battalion showed soldiers carrying some wounded victims and conducting field inspection at collapsed buildings and establishments.
Some 206 families or 826 persons were affected by the earthquake, Jalad added.
Houses, churches, public markets, government buildings, bridges and roads were also destroyed by the earthquake.
In Cantilan town, the quake caused the Bugsukan Timber bridge to be slightly tilted which rendered it impassable. In Carmen town, the walls of a stall in a public market collapsed while an estimated 20-meter crack was found at the Antao National Highway.
Lieutenant Colonel Xerxes Trinidad, commander of the 36IB, said the troops will continue to serve as a support unit to the local government units and concerned agencies in ensuring the safety of the affected residents.
“As a partner in addressing the peace and security in the province, it is also our mandate to serve and protect the people in any calamity and natural disaster,” Trinidad said.
“We will be deploying our troops to any point in the province. It is our sincere gesture to reach out to the victims and monitor the damage caused by the earthquake,” he added.