Luzon quake death toll rises to 16

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2019   •   2159

MANILA, Philippines — The number of fatalities following the strong earthquake that hit parts of Luzon on Monday afternoon has climbed to 16, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported on Tuesday, April 23.

Most of the people killed in the 6.1 magnitude quake were from the province of Pampanga, which was heavily hit by the powerful temblor.

Of the 16 reported deaths, 12 were from Porac, two from Lubao and one from Angeles in Pampanga. One fatality was also reported in San Marcelino, Zambales.

The NDRRMC also said that 81 people were injured and 14 remain missing.

The agency, however, stressed that the mentioned figures are still subject to further validation by authorities.

The strong quake, the epicenter of which was located in Castillejos, Zambales, also damaged a total of 29 structures and buildings.

The NDRRMC said a blue alert status has been raised since Monday and regional disaster offices have been ordered to assess their respective areas of responsibility.

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), for its part, has deployed a 12-man team to help in the ongoing search, rescue and retrieval operations in affected areas.

The Bureau of Fire Protection, on the other hand, sent 155 of its personnel, along with its rescue and fire trucks, and ambulance to Pampanga to assist in the rescue mission.

The NDRRMC said backhoes, jack hammers, hydraulics and cranes are now being used to fast track the operation.

The Department of Social Welfare and Develolment (DSWD), for its part, has prepositioned 305,830 family food packs, and other food and non-food items. A standby fund amounting to more than P1.3 billion was also allocated for other needs.

The Department of Energy (DOE) also reported that measures have already been taken to ensure safety in local fuel refinery units. Generator sets and floodlights were also dispatched for the ongoing operations in Porac, Pampanga.

“As per DOE, Petron Corporation conducted protective tripping of some units of its refinery,” NDRRMC said.

“Also per NGCP (National Grid Corporation of the Philippines), Meralco dispatched 2 canter vehicles and 4 generator sets with 8 floodlights to Porac, Pampanga,” it added.

The quake also damaged parts of the Clark International Airport, resulting in the airport’s closure since Monday night.

The operations of Metro Manila’s main rail services were also suspended on Monday but operations have resumed since Tuesday morning. — Robie de Guzman

Death toll from Taliban blast in Afghan capital reaches 16, with 119 wounded says official

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 3, 2019

A Taliban vehicle bomb exploded late on Monday (September 2) close to a housing compound used by international organizations in the Afghan capital Kabul, killing at least 16 people and wounding 119, officials said.

The blast, which shook buildings several kilometres away, came just as Zalmay Khalilzad, the special U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan was outlining details of a draft accord with the insurgent movement in a television interview.

Following major Taliban attacks on two northern cities over the weekend, the bombing in a heavily populated area of the capital added to questions around the peace deal reached between U.S. and Taliban negotiators.

The Interior Ministry said the blast was caused by a tractor packed with explosives close to Green Village, a residential compound in eastern Kabul used by foreign staff of international groups including aid organizations. (REUTERS)

(Production: Samargul Zwak, Aziz Mohammad, Sayed Hassib)

Pinoy invents device that measures building’s structural integrity

Marje Pelayo   •   August 23, 2019

Dr. Francis Aldrine-Uy

MANILA, Philippines – The stability of a structure is best tested during strong earthquakes.

However, inspections usually take days to determine if a building has damage or if it can be declared safe to use.

To help in the process, a Filipino inventor has created a device which can be installed to a structure to measure its strength.

It is called the universal structural health evaluation and recording system (USHER).

Universal structural health evaluation and recording system (USHER).

Dr. Francis Aldrine-Uy said with the device, a building’s structural condition can be assessed just a few hours after an earthquake.

The local government units (LGUs), meanwhile, can immediately direct orders even to the most affected areas right after the device’s assessment is seen.

“Makikita na natin kung nakapula yung mga building na iyon, ibig sabihin nag-suffer ng structural damage ang mga building na iyon after an earthquake (We can see if the buildings are in color red, it means that the building suffered structural damage after the earthquake,)” explained Dr. Uy, the President and CEO of USHER, the inventor of the device.

“Doon po natin i-concentrate ang tulong o ang response na pwede nating madala doon, (That’s where we may concentrate our response,)” he added.

The invention, which is in cooperation with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), can be installed in public facilities like bridges and railways of MRT and LRT.

The device can also measure the degree of intensity when an earthquake strikes.

Regarding the price, Uy said it is way cheaper than those made abroad.

“It could be at least 50% lower in cost,” Dr. Uy said.

“And of course, it will be more sustainable dahil nga ito ay gawang Pinoy at dito natin mina-manufacture (because it’s Filipino made and is locally manufactured),” he added.

Dr. Uy said the instrument can help in mitigating the impact of a strong quake like ‘the Big One’ which is expected to cause massive damages and loss of thousands of lives. – MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

DOH declares national dengue epidemic due to surge of dengue cases

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 6, 2019

Patients suffering from dengue fever receive medical treatment at an isolation ward of a government-run hospital in Manila, Philippines, 16 July 2019. (Photoville Internatioal)

The Department of Health (DOH) has declared a national dengue epidemic due to the continuous surge of dengue cases in the country.

According to the DOH, dengue cases from July 14 to 20 alone already reached over 10,000.

From January to July 20, a total of 146,062 cases with 622 death were recorded. It is 98% higher compared to the same period last year.

READ: Dengue on the rise: How to protect your family against dengue virus

“It is important that a national epidemic be dared in these areas to identify where a localized response is needed and to enable the local government units to use their Quick Response Fund to address the epidemic situation,” Duque said during a press briefing on Tuesday (Aug 6).

Duque also said the health department along with other government agencies and local government unit will launch “the ‘Sabayang 4 o’clock habit’ para dengue out, focusing on search and destroy in mosquito breeding sites.”

The DOH also reiterated the importance of immediate consultation if an individual experiences dengue symptoms.—AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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