President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines offered on Thursday to help restore houses destroyed by a massive earthquake on the island of Luzon, as scared locals camped out in parks and on streets after hundreds of aftershocks.

On Wednesday morning, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake slammed the northern Philippine island, killing at least five people and injured more than 130.

The quake also destroyed a number of homes and other structures, including centuries-old churches in Vigan, a popular tourist destination.

“For the affected and victims, let us make sure we are ready to support them and give them all they need,” Marcos said after being informed during a trip to examine the damage.

Vigan’s streets, noted for their historic Spanish colonial architecture, have been cleansed of debris, but stores, hotels, and enterprises have remained closed.

Elma Sia, 52, a restaurant worker, recalls her terror of being trapped in such a big earthquake.

“Everything was moving, our plates were breaking, our lights swaying. We were terrified,” she told Reuters.

“I could hear people shouting from a nearby McDonald’s restaurant, so people rushed outside to the plaza and started crying out of fear,” she said.

The quake, which struck in the Marcos family’s political heartland, also left a path of devastation in Bangued, Abra province, which was just 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) from the epicentre.

Residents camped out in shelters with their families because they were too afraid to remain at home. Since the original quake, seismologists have documented roughly 800 aftershocks.

“We were so scared,” Erlinda Bisares said to CNN Philippines. “We didn’t care about our possessions and rushed outdoors. Life is more essential than money.”

The Philippines is vulnerable to natural catastrophes and is situated on the seismically active Pacific “Ring of Fire” a belt of volcanoes and fault lines that arcs around the Pacific Ocean’s edge. Earthquakes are common, and there are an average of 20 typhoons every year, some of which cause devastating landslides.

Manuel Bonoan, Public Works Secretary, told DZBB radio that his department has begun clearing debris from important roadways in Abra and other areas impacted by rockslides following the earthquake.

However, attempts to evaluate irrigation damage were delayed since several roads had still to be cleaned of stones, according to the National Irrigation Administration.

Northern Luzon provinces are major rice and vegetable producers in the nation.

According to Ricardo Jalad, head of the Office of Civil Defense, certain portions of Abra are still without electricity or water and are suffering communication failures.

According to the budget ministry, officials are ready to provide cash for disaster assistance.

Source: Reuters

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