Red Cross increases its efforts in response to families ‘too scared’ to return home after quake

Published: 20 February 2012 15:00 CET

By Afrhill Rances in Manila

Two weeks after the deadly 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck the Negros Oriental and Cebu islands of the Philippines, the Philippine Red Cross is increasing its relief efforts. However, aftershocks and torrential rains continue to have a significant impact on those affected by the earthquake.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has made 146,000 Swiss francs available from the Disasters Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to help Philippine Red Cross deliver immediate assistance to 4,500 families – approximately 22,500 persons. Much of this money will be used to replenish stocks already dispatched to the affected areas.

Richard Gordon, chairman of Philippine Red Cross, said that the region has been battered recently by a rise in extreme weather events and natural disasters. “While we are undertaking two typhoon operations (Nesat and Washi), we have another earthquake and an identified low pressure area that continues to bring rains,” he said. “It’s very unusual for this time of the year to experience these. Certainly the effects of global warming are evident.”

The earthquake resulted in more than 50 deaths and 112 injuries. 62 people are still missing. In total, more than 320,000 people have been affected in the Central Visayas region. Powerful tremors caused damage to nearly 16,000 houses, pulled down electrical wires and wrecked critical infrastructure. More than 23,000 people are staying in 74 evacuation centres for fear of returning to their homes.

Rosa Tubalado said she had decided to stay at a Red Cross shelter while she is treated for an injury she sustained during the earthquake. “I’ve never felt so frightened my whole life. That moment when the ground shook and everything else around me was falling, I felt like it’s the end of my existence,” she said. “Now I feel like living a second life, for which I am truly grateful.”

In the wake of the earthquake, volunteers and staff from the Philippine Red Cross were deployed to provide first aid, psychological support and relief assistance. They have also provided food packages to more than 1,000 families and the IFRC supported the dispatch of blankets, jerry cans and sleeping mats an additional  1,500 families.

The Philippine Red Cross also dispatched three 10,000 litre water tanks to provide safe drinking water to survivors in evacuation centres and affected communities. Additional food supplies for 3,000 families will be purchased locally, while hygiene kits are on its way to the affected areas coming from the IFRC’s regional logistics hub in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.