Negros earthquake: President Aquino criticizes shoddy road building

Negros earthquake: President Aquino visited Negros province where an earthquake struck Monday. Dozens of people are still missing, perhaps buried in landslides caused by the 6.9 magnitude quake.

(AP Photo/Jay Morales, Malacanang Palace Photo Bureau)
Philippines President Benigno Aquino III, in yellow shirt, inspects the quake-stricken La Libertad township, Negros Oriental province in central Philippines Wednesday Feb. 8, 2012..

Philippine officials conceded Wednesday that there was little hope of finding any survivors among 71 people still buried in landslides set off by a powerful earthquake, as jittery residents stayed away from their homes amid a flurry of aftershocks.

Soldiers, rescue volunteers and villagers using picks and shovels have not found anyone alive under concrete rubble and tons of rocks and mountain soil since the magnitude-6.9 quake struck two townships in central Negros Oriental province on Monday. So far, 26 bodies have been recovered and identified.

"I am still hoping against hope, but the chances (of recovering survivors) are very slim. If you see the landslide, it's huge and there is no chance of them surviving," said Benito Ramos, head of the Office of Civil Defense.

IN PICTURES: Negros earthquake

Ramos accompanied President Benigno Aquino III on a visit to the disaster area, during which Aquino ordered the immediate construction of detour roads to revive commerce and speed up the delivery of relief supplies.

Aquino criticized the shoddy road construction, while Ramos said bridges that were damaged were not built to sustain such a strong quake.

Eleven bridges reportedly were damaged in Negros Oriental, three of them beyond repair.

Philippine seismologists said they were previously unaware of the undersea fault line that caused the temblor, which sent rocks, trees and other debris crashing down mountainsides in the two worst-hit towns of Guihulngan and nearby La Libertad.

Bottles of potable water, which has been in short supply, began to arrive, while a ship brought water purifiers.

Ramos said many jittery villagers refused to return to their houses, fearing more damage from numerous aftershocks and opting instead to sleep in vacant fields and parks.

"We could see how severe nature's wrath was," Aquino said. "The aftershocks are enlarging the cracks of the roads."

With more bodies expected to be recovered, Guihulngan Mayor Ernesto Reyes said his town of 100,000 people might run out of coffins. At least 23 people were still missing there.

The Philippines is in the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where earthquakes and volcanic activity are common. The damage and casualties are compounded by poor construction in violation of building codes in the impoverished nation. A magnitude-7.7 quake killed nearly 2,000 people in northern Luzon in 1990.


Associated Press writers Hrvoje Hranjski and Teresa Cerojano contributed to this report.

IN PICTURES: Negros earthquake

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Negros earthquake: President Aquino criticizes shoddy road building
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today