November 21, 2013

Major Earthquake Damages Property in the Philippines

BY MOISES MUSICO and GAY DELES, with Adventist News Network staff

A hospital and several other properties owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in central Philippines sustained damage when a massive earthquake hit the island of Bohol October 15, 3

The 7.2-magnitude quake killed at least 222 people, injured hundreds more, and reduced thousands of buildings to rubble and twisted metal. An estimated 590,000 families were displaced or affected, among them 14 Seventh-day Adventist families. More families, fearing powerful aftershocks, lived outside their homes in makeshift tents for days.

The upper floors of the Adventist hospital in Cebu were damaged, forcing staff to move patients to lower floors and nearby shelters. Walls cracked and ceilings caved in at the church’s East Visayan Academy. The Capital Seventh-day Adventist Church in Cebu also reported damage, church leaders said.

Travel remains a challenge on the island of Bohol because of impassable roads and interrupted communication services, relief workers said. Although airports and seaports in Bohol and Cebu City are operational, on-the-ground communication, transportation, and emergency relief efforts have been hampered.

Despite the obstacles, leaders and staff from the church’s Central Visayan Conference, headquartered in Cebu City, flew to Bohol with other Adventist volunteers to begin distributing food, water, and medicine to affected families. Local Adventists are supporting the effort by collecting supplies and supplying off-road vehicles to navigate the debris.

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in the Philippines monitored the situation and assessed needs. Agency officials said their initial response includes water, food, and other basic supplies for the most vulnerable, such as children, elderly individuals, and pregnant women. ADRA is also coordinating with local government relief efforts to support the broader humanitarian response.

Local church leaders said they’re grateful that the Central Philippine Union Conference headquarters emerged largely unscathed. Hope Channel broadcasts were temporarily halted for safety reasons, communication director Donald Zabala said.

The conference oversees more than 1,200 churches in central Philippines with a membership of 166,000.