(SOURCE) Bohol, Philippines – “It was as if God demolished our island,” Francis Lajot said, after attempting to drive on a mountainside road buried by boulders as large as SUVs, and sliced with cracks that could swallow a motorcycle.
Along the route, village after village in this central Philippine province of 1.2 million people, school buildings served as evacuation centres – some with collapsed walls – while hundreds of homeless families chose to camp outside, too scared to seek shelter because of multiple aftershocks.
After a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck Bohol and its neighbouring islands on Tuesday, rescuers and relief volunteers struggled with obstructed roads to reach victims. According to the government, 23 bridges in Bohol were destroyed. Heavy rain and thunderstorms on Thursday also complicated rescue efforts.
In one remote area of the province, a survivor told Al Jazeera she was still waiting for help to dig out her husband and her 80-year-old parents after a landslide buried their house. The current death toll of 151 is expected to rise as dozens remain missing, authorities said.
The United Nations humanitarian agency said workers have been sent to assist the government with the response.
|It is a very unfortunate event for Bohol and the rest of the country. I hope that there will be no further loss of lives.
– Rene Relampagos , Philippine lawmaker
In the coastal town of Loon, one of the worst-hit areas, residents crowded under tents not too far from a one-story pile of limestone rubble – which had been a centuries-old Catholic church until Tuesday morning.
On one side, the family of Andres and Leticia Guadalquiver huddled with their 11 children and four grandchildren. When they fled, the family only carried a cooking pot and water jug with them. They said even if they wanted to go back to their village, they have no house to return to.
Joel Ruyeras, the town parish priest, told Al Jazeera at least three people were feared buried under the church debris. Shortly before the quake, Ruyeras was inside the church officiating the daily mass.
An undetermined number of people were also reportedly trapped in the partially damaged local hospital. At a local funeral home, the manager told Al Jazeera it had received 45 bodies. Her brother was one of those killed.
“It is a very unfortunate event for Bohol and the rest of the country,” Rene Relampagos, a Congress member and former governor of the province, told Al Jazeera. “I hope that there will be no further loss of lives.”
Relampagos and other local officials met with President Benigno Aquino III, who visited the island province on Wednesday to see the damage.
More than 1,270 aftershocks were recorded in Bohol, including a magnitude 5.5 quake on Thursday morning that left many people on edge, some running away from buildings.