Measuring 6.7 on the richter scale, the epicentre of the quake occurred in a narrow strait of sea off Negros Island. The strong tremors caused landslides in the Negros Oriental province, where many houses in the city of Guihulngan (with a population of around 180,000) on the coast have been buried. Dozens of people are missing and therefore the death toll is expected to rise. Many hundreds of Filipinos in the region are also injured. Thankfully, all SOS Children projects in the country were unaffected.
Rescuers have been digging through mud and collapsed properties using picks and shovels, though the longer residents remain trapped in buildings, the less likely rescue teams are to find survivors. The highest death toll so far is reported to have been in a college, where a number of students were killed. The two child fatalities were in the towns of Jimalalud and Tayasan, where walls collapsed onto the children.
The quake hit during Monday morning at 11.49 am local time. As well as causing landslides and damage to property, bridges and roads have also been affected, with some routes rendered too dangerous to use. Power and telecommunications lines have also been hit. While two aftershocks have already been felt, of 4.8 and 5.6 in magnitude, no tsunamis have been reported, though residents of coastal regions have been warned to remain vigilant. Many offices in the affected towns and cities have suspended work and public buildings such as schools have closed. However, in towns such Tayasan, the police are reporting that residents are nervous to return home because of further possible aftershocks.
Located along the western rim of the circum-pacific seismic belt, known as the ‘Ring of Fire’, the Philippines regularly suffers from earthquakes and volcanic activity. Since 1959, the US Geological Survey has recorded 168 earthquakes of a magnitude greater than 6.5, equivalent to an event every 2.5 years. The most serious event occurred in the 1976 Mindanao Earthquake, which killed approximately 6,000 people. More recently, almost 2,000 Filipinos were killed in Luzon in 1990 by a 7.7 magnitude quake. Apart from earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the Philippines is also prone to flooding and tropical cyclones – such as the recent typhoon Washi – making it the 8th most exposed country in the world to natural multiple hazards.
SOS Children's Villages Philippines
SOS Children has eight Children's Villages in the Philippines, including SOS Children's Village Davao, which is located on the island of Mindanao. Built in 1981 in the south of the island, the Village has 14 family houses, five SOS Youth Homes, and a Family Strengthening Programme which provides support and assistance to families living in the surrounding slum settlements. So far, there has been no reported damage to the Village and all our children and staff are safe. However, we are on standby should any children need temporary or long-term accomodation.
We began our work in the country in 1964 and currently care for more than 700 children at our eight purpose-built SOS Children's Villages. We also support a further 262 youths at our seven SOS Youth Homes, a place for young adults to prepare for independence.
We also runs schools, vocational training centres and Family Strengthening Programmes
in the Philippines. Family Strengthening Programmes aim to stop child
abandonment and to keep families together, by providing child care,
counselling, vocational training and medical support. In total, through
all of our programmes (including the Villages and the Family
Strengthening Programmes) we are reaching more than 6,700 Filipinos.
How you can help
Every day we help children whose lives have been damaged by natural disasters, conflict, poverty, or disease. You can help us continue our work in the Philippines by sponsoring a child or making a one-off donation which will help us to focus on the long-term welfare of children who have no one to care for them. Thank you.