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Philippines earthquakes death toll rises to 9

Manila, July 29 (IANS) The death toll from the earthquakes that struck northern Philippines at the weekend rose to nine on Monday, according to official figures.

Multiple tremors, some between magnitude-5.4 and -5.9, hit Batanes province, an archipelago in the far north of the Philippines, on Saturday morning. The body of missing resident Edwin Ponce, 32, was recovered from a cave on Monday, taking the death toll to nine, according to local broadcaster ABS-CBN.

At least 63 have been injured in the tremors.

Rescue teams from the Philippines Air Force had attempted to locate Ponce alive on Saturday and Sunday, but were forced to stop operations on Sunday afternoon due to the precariousness of the situation, said Raul de Sagon, Mayor of Itbayat, which was worst affected by the quakes.

Nearly 3,000 families were forced to vacate their homes owing to the risks of damage and collapse posed by the many aftershocks.

Families continue to be sheltered in tents in a square in Itbayat, where 15 houses, two schools, a hospital and a health centre collapsed.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council estimated damage to public property caused by the earthquakes to be 47 million pesos (about $921,000).

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte travelled to Batanes on Sunday to conduct an aerial inspection of the area.

Following a meeting with local and national authorities, Duterte allocated 40 million pesos for the construction of a new hospital in Itbayat.

The Philippines sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of great seismic and volcanic activity that is struck by about 7,000 tremors a year, most of which are moderate.

In April, at least 11 people died after a supermarket collapsed following a 6.1 magnitude earthquake in Pampanga province in Luzon island, about 80 kilometres north of Manila.

–IANS

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