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8 dead, 60 hurt as quakes shake northern Philippine isles

MANILA, Philippines 27 Jul 2019; Two strong earthquakes hours apart struck a group of sparsely populated islands in the Luzon Strait in the northern Philippines early Saturday, killing at least eight people, injuring about 60 and damaging ancestral houses famous among tourists. The quakes collapsed homes of stone and wood and roused residents from sleep, said Roldan Esdicul, who heads the Batanes provincial disaster- response office.

Footage showed people clearing boulder-size stone bricks to pull out one body from the rubble. “Our bed and everything were swaying from side to side like a hammock,” Esdicul told The Associated Press by cellphone from Basco town, the provincial capital. “We all ran out to safety.”

On hard-hit Itbayat island, school teacher Agnes Salengua-Nico said she and her husband woke up horrified with the ground shaking and a cabinet crashing to the floor. Their house withstood the shaking but others in the neighborhood crumbled, pinning residents inside, she said.

“We’re out now in the farm with our three pigs because we’re very, very scared of the aftershocks,” she told AP by phone, her voice trembling shortly after the ground shook again. More than 2,000 residents of Itbayat – nearly all of the island’s population of mostly fishermen – were advised not to return to their homes and stay in the town plaza as successive aftershocks shook the region, Esdicul said.

Only one villager remained missing in the quake’s aftermath, he said. Army troops and additional doctors later flew in after Itbayat’s airport runway was declared safe. (AP)

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