LA LIBERTAD - Manolo Magalso carefully moves about in the rubble where his home in barangay Solonggon, La Libertad town, once stood. Amid dimming hopes, he looks for clues on where to dig for the bodies of his wife, Lorna, 32, and children John Marc, 8, Jira Mae, 6 and Charity Joy, 8 months.
Manolo,33, was plowing his field nearby when the magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck last Monday at 11:49 a.m.
"When the ground started shaking, I looked at my house and saw the mountain above it slide and cover it with my family inside. I could only watch and cry," Manolo said trying to keep a brave face.
Manolo and his siblings lived on the mountain slope in barangay Solonggon. Elder brother Primitivo, 47, also lost his two daughters Shiela May, 16 and Kristel Jane, 15.
Another brother Wilson, 45, lost his home but saved his family.
A total of 43 residents of this mountainside area were buried by the landslide. As of yesterday afternoon, rescuers from the Philippine Army, the Provincial government, the police, and the local government unit, had dug up only the body of Cindy Lisondra. Cindy, 21, managed a text message to her boyfriend from under the rubble.
Her boyfriend led rescuers to her position. But it was a little too late.
Anxiety and fear continue to grip the residents of the northern towns of Ayungon, Tayasan, Jimalalud and La Libertad a well as the City of Guihulngan Tuesday, as most residents continued to stay away from the coastal areas amid lingering aftershocks and fears of a tsunami.
Stores and public markets remained closed and electricity remains off. The mood is generally somber and people stare blankly at passers-by, wondering when their ordeal would end.
Rescue and retrieval operations were on their second day of searching for victims trapped in landslides in Guihulngan City and La Libertad municipality, some 100 kilometers north of here.
Gov. Roel Degamo dispatched the Negros Oriental Search and Rescue Team yesterday to the two areas in the hope of finding survivors under the rubble.
The rescue teams from the Province, the PNP, the Army and from some local government units, augmented rescuers from the La Libertad who have been digging since Monday afternoon with picks and shovels.
A report from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said that two teams of rescuers from the Federation of Volunteers through Radio Communication Inc. from Cebu were also headed for Guihulngan and La Libertad to augment the operations.
Reports say the magnitude 6.8 earthquake, felt at intensity 7 in Negros Oriental, killed at least 52 people who were mostly buried in the landslides that followed the first quake at 11:49 a.m.
Guihulngan City Mayor Ernesto Reyes said several aftershocks continued to cause fear among residents of Guihulngan, leading them to sleep in open fields Monday evening.
"We are discouraging them from returning to their homes until after these aftershocks end," Reyes said.
The PDRRMC has also sounded the call for assistance in the form of drinking water, tents and food for patients at the Guihulngan District Hospital. The 50-bed capacity hospital was overflowing with patients as of 9:29 Monday night.
Bindoy town mayor Valente Yap said the district hospital in Bindoy has become a transport point for patients to the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital. Yap said the patients have to be passed from one ambulance to another because some bridges have been rendered impassable by the earthquake.*AP
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