Philippine President Benigno Aquino CNS photo/Erik de Castro, Reuters

Church officials step up relief efforts to quake victims

By  Catholic News Service
  • February 9, 2012

MANILA, Philippines - Catholic officials are stepping up relief efforts to provide assistance to victims of an earthquake that struck Negros Oriental province Feb. 6.

San Carlos Diocese on Negros Island is organizing relief groups to deliver food and water to thousands of people who remain isolated after a magnitude 6.9 earthquake on the eastern part of the island, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.

The quake destroyed or damaged bridges and buildings and triggered landslides. As of Feb. 9, the official death toll was 26, but rescuers said there was little hope of finding any of the 71 missing alive, UCA News reported.

More than 1,500 families were evacuated from their homes.

Father Edwin Laude, social action director in San Carlos Diocese, said diocesan officials would declare a state of calamity in affected areas due to the "traumatic experience."

"Parishes will conduct a second collection to help those in affected areas. Prayers of the faithful will also be recited at Masses for the victims," he said.

He also said he went to Guihulngan City, south of San Carlos, Feb. 7 to assess the situation and give immediate assistance.

"Guihulngan is the only place accessible from San Carlos. The rectory of the parish priest there was completely damaged and the church is partially damaged," he said adding there were around 70 evacuees in the church grounds as of Feb. 8.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino spent most of his 52nd birthday Feb. 8 inspecting areas badly damaged by the quake, talking with the residents and addressing the concerns of local officials at a meeting in Dumaguete City.

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