Magnitude 6.9 earthquake jolted South Philippines, Adventists among those affected
A devastating 6.9 magnitude earthquake jolted Davao del Sur, South Philippines, at around 2:11 in the afternoon, Sunday, December 15. This latest earthquake is the strongest reported in the series of tremors experienced in the South Philippines over the past two months.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reported that the epicenter of the earthquake was located almost 4 miles (6 kilometers) away from Padada, Davao del Sur, at a depth of 18 miles (30 kilometers).
More than 170 aftershocks were recorded since Sunday adding up to the devastation and casualties in several buildings and facilities throughout the affected region.
According to local reports, five people have died due to the earthquakes, but more fatalities are expected as search and rescue operations continue. Local government units and volunteers armed with sound and metal detectors started searching through the rubble and debris of different buildings in Padada town.
In just two months, Southern Philippines experienced three succeeding strong earthquakes mainly in the province of Cotabato: the first was on October 16 with magnitude 6.3 quake; second on October 29 with a magnitude 6.6; and third on October 31 with a 6.5 magnitude.
Adventists in the province are not excused from the calamity as several institutions were greatly impacted. The Adventist Church headquarters in the Davao region immediately dispatched field workers to check how this incident has affected the members and church buildings.
In an online message, Rhoen Catolico, Media Ministries Coordinator for the Adventist church in Davao said they were all thankful that they were all safe but were praying continuously for citizens of their province.
"We are all safe. We are thankful that despite the numerous tremors we experienced, God kept us safe," Catolico said. "Some Adventist churches and institutions were greatly affected by the recent earthquake and are being assessed as to how it can be renovated," Catolico added.
According to initial reports, no fatalities were recorded but some church buildings and a few houses are now considered condemned and inhabitable because of safety reasons.
In addition, two buildings inside the South Philippine Adventist College campus were also greatly affected: The Senior High School building and the Adventist World Radio Hope Radio.
The main building which housed the administrative, business, and operational offices will also need major renovation to make it functional for operations.
Roads going to Magsaysay were closed due to heavy cracks in the earth and concrete pavement, including the main bridge connecting the main road to the inner barangays of this agricultural town. Initial report stated there were 10 families whose houses were totally destroyed, while 41 homes were partially damaged. Eight local Adventist churches were also damaged due to the recent earthquake.
The Adventist church in the Southern Asia-Pacific region located in the Northern Philippines seeks for prayers for the families greatly affected by this natural calamity. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in the Philippines is now coordinating with local officials to identify and asses primary needs of citizens of Davao.
In the series of earthquakes that happened in the South Philippines, ADRA Philippines responded and helped more than 4900 families who were impacted by the earthquake. Primary needs like emergency shelter repair kits, food, beddings, and financial assistance were given to families to assist in their immediate needs.
"At the moment, our ADRA personnel is currently in Davao coordinating with local government units to conduct assessment and to identify needs beneficial for those affected by the earthquake," said Aimee Tapeceria, PR and Marketing officer of ADRA Philippines
After assessment, ADRA Philippines aims to distribute more emergency kits to help citizens meet their basic necessities while in this time of displacement. If you would like to help and extend assistance to families affected by this disaster you can contact ADRA Philippines office at adra.ph.
Edward Rodriguez with additional reporting from Rhoen Catolico
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