5 dead, structures damaged after magnitude 7 quake in Northern Luzon

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 27) — At least five people were reported dead and dozens of others were injured in the magnitude 7 earthquake that hit Northern Luzon on Wednesday morning, according to authorities.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said two deaths were recorded in Benguet, while the other fatalities came from Abra and Kalinga.

NDRRMC spokesperson Mark Timbal on Thursday said they received a new report on an Ilocos Sur fatality but is still subject for verification.

In a separate interview with CNN Philippines on Wednesday, Timbal said one of the reported victims is a construction worker.

"Yung isa po kasi initially na-identify (na) isang construction worker po na gumuho yung mismong project site po nila, yun pong tinatayo nilang structure at mukhang doon po siya naipit at nadisgrasya," Timbal told Newsroom Ngayon.

[Translation: One of the victims was identified as a construction worker who was trapped by a collapsed structure.]

Meanwhile, initial information from the Office of Civil Defense bared at least 64 people were injured following the tremor which triggered landslides and damaged structures in parts of Luzon.

The major tectonic quake struck Tayum in Abra at 8:43 a.m., according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum said in a public briefing the movement along Abra River Fault caused the quake.

Abra declared a state of calamity on Thursday afternoon, with the provincial government citing reports the tremor has damaged Abra's major infrastructure facilities and has already affected 80% of its population.

Damaged structures, road blockages

Abra Rep. Ching Bernos said the temblor damaged many households and establishments in their province. The extent of damage or injuries at the epicenter is unclear as of posting.

The congresswoman shared photos of some low-rise buildings in Bangued, Abra that were lopsided or heavily chipped after the quake.

For her part, Lagangilang, Abra Mayor Ruby Villamor told CNN Philippines that 521 infrastructures were slightly damaged, while 30 others were heavily damaged in their area. 

In a brief conference, Office of Civil Defense Deputy Administrator for Operations Assistant Secretary Bernardo Rafaelito Alejandro IV reported there were 428 damaged houses, 423 of these coming from CAR, and five from the Ilocos Region.

Several heritage houses in Vigan, and some other historic sites in Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte were not spared after some portions were seen crumbling.

A viral video showed people scampering away as bricks fell and dust billowed from Vigan’s Bantay Bell Tower.

The Vigan Cathedral, which is part of the city's UNESCO World Heritage Site declaration in 1999, was also damaged by the quake.

Vigan Mayor Bonito Singson told CNN Philippines the local government will be concentrating on fixing these historic sites, although he said there have so far been no reports of major damage that would warrant condemnation of any building in the city.

Sen. Imee Marcos, who was previously a governor of Ilocos Norte, said the Sinking Bell Tower in Laoag City was also destroyed and a church and the heritage municipal hall in Sarrat were also damaged by the quake.

Residents in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) also reported landslides and damaged buildings.

The Department of Public Works and Highways-CAR on Thursday reported that only the Kiangan-Tinoc-Buguias Road in Ifugao, Lubuagan-Batong Buhay-Abra Boundary Road in Kalinga, and Baguio-Bontoc Road in Mt. Province remain closed to traffic.

More aftershocks

Philvolcs recorded Intensity 7 shaking — classified as "destructive" by state seismologists — in Bucloc and Manabo in Abra. Different levels of intensities were also felt in other parts of northern Luzon.

State seismologists warned the public that aftershocks and damage can be expected following the major earthquake. Solidum said this could last for two to three days.

"That's a major earthquake. Anything larger than Magnitude 7 can be devastating," he said.