09 February 2012

6.9 earthquake hits Negros island, Philippines

The island of Negros, 13,326 squ kms (5,146 squ miles) in area is in the central Philippines and containts two provinces, Negros Oriental to the east and Negros Occidental to the west and north. Bacolod city, where I live, is in Negros Oriental. Last Monday a 6.9 earthquake hit the island, its epicentre near the town of Tayasan and Guihulngan City. while we felt it strongly here in Bacolod City there were no casualties or damage. It's not clear from reports how many died in Negros Oriental, perhaps up to a hundred. Much damage was done to roads and buildings in some areas.

My Columban confrere, Fr Donald Kill, from Ohio in the USA, who is based in Ozamiz City, Mindanao, but with a ministry to haemophiliacs in the area of Dumaguete City, the largest urban centre in Negros Oriental, also hit by Sendong/Washi, the tropical storm that caused such damage a week before Christmas. Father Don, who was shot in an ambush in Mindanao in 1973 or 1974 but who miraculously survived, sent the report below to the Columban website in the USA.

8 February 2012

This article, written by Ozamiz City-based Columban Fr Donald Kill, is taken from the website of the Columbans in the USA. For some years now Father Don has been working with hemophiliacs.

Fr Don Kill wrote to us regarding the February 6, 2012, earthquake in the Philippines: Well, this seems to be a year of disasters in unusual places.

Dumaguete is a beautiful, peaceful, college town with several very good schools. I built a house there several years ago, because we have about 30 hemophilia patients in the area around Dumaguete. One of the attractions of Dumaguete is that it is seldom hit by storms and never has earthquakes – that is until this year.

On Monday, February 6, around noon time, a 6.9 earthquake struck the same areas devastated earlier by typhoon Sendong. As I write this, 73 people are known to be dead, about 100 more are missing and presumed dead, buried under two landslides caused by the earthquake.

Our house in Sibulan, about a mile north of Dumaguete, was not damaged, thank God. None of the hemophilia kids in the area have been reported as injured or missing at this point. However, some of the students lived through a few moments of sheer terror as the college building 'jumped up and danced side to side'. They thought they would surely die.

The quake happened along a never before known fault beneath the sea between Dumaguete and the island of Cebu. The two are only a short distance from each other and require less than an hour to cross on a barge or other craft. No one can remember there ever being an earthquake of such intensity in the area. If any quakes had ever been felt, they would have been from stronger quakes centered farther away along known fault lines.

In the Chinese astrology, this is the year of the 'Water Dragon'. Maybe the Dragon has awakened and is moving beneath the waters. May God control its powers and the destructive forces unleashed in nature.

And where was I when all this was happening? I was in a plane safely cruising at 18,000 feet on the way to Manila. I flew right over it all and never knew it happened until the text messages began coming in. God is good.

Please pray for and, if possible help, those who have lost their houses to the double disaster in this area.

Father Don

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