Govt rushes relief, rescue operations in quake-hit areas in Northern Luzon

The military has continued to move its forces and assets in the province of Abra and in other areas affected by the strong earthquake that jolted Northern Luzon on Wednesday morning.

The military’s disaster relief and rescue operations in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and in Regions 1 and 2 were undertaken as the government brought aid to affected residents, many of whom, still choose to remain in open evacuation centers for fear of aftershocks.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said five people have been reported killed and 131 others injured as of Thursday due to the temblor, whose epicenter was located in Lagangilang in Abra.

Fourteen search, rescue, and retrieval teams (SRR) were sent to different areas in the Cordilleras and Northern Luzon by the military, including Abra, following reports of still isolated villages and towns due to landslides.

The Army’s 24th Infantry Battalion (IB) and the 71st IB, both under the 7th Infantry Division commanded by Major General Andrew Costelo are working in Abra and Ilocos Sur that include road-clearing operations.

Other units such as the 72nd Division Reconnaissance Company, 502nd IB and CAFGU Active Auxillaries are also helping in the ongoing disaster operations, including in the evacuation and transportation of affected villagers in Northern Luzon.

The military also directed the Army’s 525th Engineering; 505th Search and Rescue Group of the Air Force and the Naval Installation Command of the Navy to provide rescue teams.

The leadership has ordered its units to maximize the use of personnel, equipment and other resources to support the humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts in quake-stricken areas.

Army spokesman Col. Xerxes Trinidad said the 54th Infantry Battalion and a squad of CAFGU Active Auxiliary rescued stranded patients at Sitio Balawa, Barangay Liwon, Asipulo, and Ifugao.

The patients were promptly brought back to the Rural Health Unit of Barangay Antipolo, Asipulo, Ifugao.

On the other hand, the 71st IB provided assistance and conducted rescue operations for residents of Barangay Poblacion Norte, Lidlidda, Ilocos Sur.

Army engineers from the 548th Engineering Battalion likewise cleared debris that blocked the Naguilian Road in La Union, while the 72nd Division Reconnaissance Company helped evacuate village folk in coastal barangays of Santa Lucia, Ilocos Sur.

Army units in Ilocos Region, Cordillera and Cagayan Valley augmented their standby search, rescue and retrieval teams following President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s order for the hastening of government’s assistance and response operations in affected areas.

The NDRRMC said that as of Thursday, the earthquake has affected 3,456 families or 12,945 individuals in 149 barangays in the Cordilleras and has damaged at least 857 houses, also in the same region.