CEBU CITY, February 6, 2012 ? Aid workers reported seeing scenes of mass evacuations and terror as a triple quake and a local tsunami alert rattled populated areas of the Philippines? third largest island.
The quake struck about 11:49 a.m. off the island of Negros.
World Vision project staff based in the city of Cebu said people were forced to evacuate their homes and offices when the buildings began to violently shake.
Project officer Bing Duran, based in Cebu, said: ?People fled into the streets when the first quake struck. Everyone was really worried that the buildings might fall down. People are scared to go back indoors especially as there have been some major aftershocks.?
World Vision has mobilised teams of local NGO staff and volunteers to assess the damage and see if relief aid is required. The agency works with tens of thousands of families in the Negros and Cebu areas.
The powerful 6.9 quake generated a local tsunami alert, since withdrawn, and had the potential to cause widespread damage. Many of the poorer homes are constructed from simple wood and brick building materials and are not resistant to major quakes. Working in liaison with the local government authorities it would take some time to establish the extent of the damage.
Ms Duran said people had fled to higher ground and that there had been traffic jams as people evacuated. With five deaths reported so far, it would take some time to assess how extensive the damage and possible death or casualty toll would be.
World Vision has operated in the Philippines since 1957 and has projects and programmes in Cebu and Negros Islands. It responds to every major disaster and has trained aid workers who are dispatched when major events strike. Those staff are on standby to respond to this current quake and would deploy based on assessment findings.
Spokespeople on the ground:
Bing Duran: 63928507716, Programme Officer, ADP Cebu
Ernie Macabenta: 639209281472, Associate Director for Visayas
Spokespeople in Manila:
Gjeff Lamigo: 639993782903 Media and Communications Manager
Aaron Aspi: 639167771958 Emergency Communications Specialist