A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the mountainous province of Abra at 8.43 a.m. local time on 27 July, triggering landslides and the collapse of structures. The tectonic earthquake’s epicenter was located in the town of Tayum, Abra (17.64°N, 120.63°E - 003 km N 45° W) at a depth of 17 kilometers, with the tremor felt in varying intensities across Northern Luzon including the capital Metro Manila.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported that about 15,300 people are currently displaced, with the IDPs staying in 43 evacuation centers or are being hosted by families/friends in the provinces of Abra, Ilocos Sur, Kalinga, Benguet and Mountain Province. About 11,100 of these IDPs are in Abra province where traumatized local residents also camped out of their homes as the earthquake was followed by over 1,000 aftershocks with a maximum of 5.0-magnitude. The government also confirmed the deaths of six individuals along with 136 injuries.
Based on latest government assessment report, more than 5,200 houses were either damaged or destroyed in the Cordillera and Ilocos Regions, with the numbers expected to rise as teams reach some of the remote and mountainous areas. Damages were also reported in 33 health facilities such as hospitals (10), rural health units (11), barangay health stations (11) and a city health office. Some 57 schools had reported damages with 150 classrooms also either destroyed or damaged. At least 33 road networks leading to the Cordillera and Ilocos Regions were affected by landslides and cracks, with 14 of these still impassable to vehicles as clearing operations are still underway.
On 28 July, the provincial government of Abra declared a state of calamity with the resolution requesting for immediate assistance from the national government for disaster response, relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction support.
The weather bureau is monitoring the development of a low pressure area 1,000 kilometers east of Luzon. The weather system is expected to intensify to tropical depression category, this will enhance the southwest monsoon and cause rains in the earthquake-affected areas which could trigger landslides and hamper relief operations.
The government mounted a full-blown response with regional/local authorities leading the relief efforts while the national government is augmenting local capacities. In a visit to Abra province on 28 July, the Philippines president tasked response agencies to meet the immediate needs of shelter, food, and water; ensure the quick clearing of roads and repair of bridges so that people will have access to services within and outside of their communities; restore power and communications at the household level; and assess the structural integrity of vital structures like hospitals, schools and residential buildings/houses.
DSWD delivered 10,000 family food packs and non-food items (hygiene, sleeping and kitchen kits) to augment the resources of its field offices in Cordillera and Ilocos Regions. It also facilitated the release of an additional US$270,000 to the concerned regional units for additional food and NFI requirements. Cash assistance between $100 and $200 will also be provided to support shelter repair. The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) also deployed 540 tarpaulins, 1,500 hygiene kits and various NFIs to the most affected province of Abra.
The Department of Health provided hospital tents, beds, hygiene kits, and various medicines to the provincial hospital in Abra. The Philippine Emergency Medical Assistance Team, which is aspiring for the WHO Emergency Medical Team classification, will also deploy to support existing human health resources in Abra.
The government Search, Rescue and Retrieval Cluster led by the Armed Forces of the Philippines deployed 19 Urban Search and Rescue teams from the military, police and fire At present, no request for international assistance has been lodged as government capacities are sufficient to respond to the humanitarian needs.
Humanitarian partners coordination and response
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) continues to coordinate with national authorities as well as humanitarian partners to determine the impact of the earthquake. OCHA has also requested UNOSAT for the activation of the Space Charter for satellite imagery of affected areas, while a Joint Analysis of Disaster Exposure was released by the combined efforts of the Pacific Disaster Centre, OCHA and WFP.
IOM, as part of its multi-year capacity building project with DSWD and Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, and funded by USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance on emergency response and shelter solutions, has pre-positioned stocks of 10,000 tarpaulins at the DSWD national warehouses. Under this project, 3,000 tarpaulins will be delivered to assist the government response.
As Logistics Cluster co-lead, WFP provided two trucks to OCD to deliver various relief items to Abra. Members of the Shelter Cluster are also deploying structural engineers to do a post-earthquake inspection of critical buildings and residential structures.
A rapid assessment to determine the impact and needs will be conducted by an inter-agency team composed of IOM, WFP, UNICEF and UNDP staff with technical expertise on CCCM, Shelter, WASH, Health/MHPSS,
Protection and Early Recovery. Several agencies which have existing development programs in the affected areas – such as AAH, ADRA, Care, CDRC, CRS, Habitat for Humanity, HI, Oxfam, and World Vision – will also be conducting needs assessments in the next days.
The Philippine Red Cross and its local chapters deployed response teams for search and rescue operations and medical assistance. Together with their volunteers, the Red Cross also provided hot meals, water, hygiene and sleeping kits, and face masks in evacuation centers.
Member corporations of the private sector-led Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation are also supporting the government response by distributing relief packs, supplying fuel, deploying water tankers, and providing free mobile calls, WiFi and charging stations.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.