Caritas Manila, the social action arm of the archdiocese of the Philippine capital, has appealed for help for the victims of a powerful earthquake that rocked the southern province of Davao del Sur on Sunday.
Among the immediate needs of those affected are food, potable water, shelter sheets, cooking wares and utensils, hygiene kits, blankets, flashlights, and medical kits.
The Dec. 15 earthquake of 6.9-magnitude killed at least 4 people, including a six-year-old, displaced several families, and damaged infrastructure in several areas of Mindanao.
"Let us remember our brothers and sisters in Mindanao, who experienced an earthquake that was even stronger than previous ones," Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said on Monday at the first of 9 Simbang Gabi Masses that lead up to Christmas.
“Let us stand together with our brethren, who are, at this time, attending the Simbang Gabi not inside a beautiful church, but are still manifesting their faith,” said CardinalTagle, the Archbishop of Manila, in his homily.
At least six churches in Digos Diocese were reported badly damaged, according to Father Consorcio Lopez Jr., the diocesan Caritas director. "The churches were damaged and cannot be used," said the priest.
The affected churches were in the towns of Padada, Bangkal, Cathedral, Hagonoy, Matanao, and Magsaysay.
The cardinal said he has sent messages to bishops in Cotabato, Davao and Davao del Sur.
"There are thousands of houses seriously damaged. People are staying in tents. Some villages still have no electricity," said Father Lopez.
“Be #OneForMindanao and see how you can extend your help,” Caritas Manila urged in a Facebook post, providing details of donations through banks. Donors could also drop off their cash or in-kind donations at the Caritas Manila office.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said the quake's epicentre was near the town of Matanao, about nine kilometres west of the city of Digos.
It was the fourth quake above magnitude 6 that have hit the Mindanao region in the past two months. The earlier earthquakes in October damaged over 47,600 houses.
In Davao del Sur province alone, 13,200 houses were damaged, out of which 3,200 were destroyed. Authorities estimated that about 838,000 people were affected by all four earthquakes.
At least seven people have been reported killed and 49 others injured, although the toll is expected to rise.
Initial reports by local authorities indicated that at least 50,000 people were displaced by the latest earthquake, which has reportedly spawned about 700 aftershocks.
The Philippines is situated on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin. (Source: UCANEWS)