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Plan teams on standby to respond after Philippines quake

The quake struck about 100 km off the east coast of the Philippines. (USGS screengrab)

31 August 2012: Humanitarian organisation Plan International’s emergency response teams are on standby for immediate deployment in the Philippines after a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck about 100 kilometres off the country’s east coast late Friday night.

The quake also triggered a tsunami warning in several countries in the region. It was subsequently lifted. Meanwhile small waves measuring about 16 cms reportedly hit the Philippine coast. Many residents along the east coast of the Philippines were evacuated to higher ground.

Marivic Singco, Plan Philippines finance manager, was in Tacloban city in Eastern Visayas along with 2 other staff when the quake struck.

“We were having dinner in a restaurant on the ground floor of our hotel when all of a sudden the tables started shaking,” she said.

“Each of us took cover under a table. Although the quake lasted for about half a minute, it felt so long. It was very strong and getting stronger. Tables were shaking violently. Other customers started to run for the door, but we stayed where we were until it stopped,” she added.

Plan's communication officer for Philippines, Mardy Halcon, who is in the country’s Sorsogon province, saw buildings and houses swaying. “People in the city went out of their houses for fear of aftershocks,” she said. After the earthquake, power went out and the entire city was plunged into darkness, she added.

Areas where the quake was felt included Eastern Samar and Southern Leyte, where Plan has programme units.

“Plan's emergency response team is ready to travel to affected areas to respond to the needs of children and their families. Relief goods including water purification kits and jerry cans are ready for immediate distribution, if required,” said Carin van der Hor, Plan’s Country Director in the Philippines.

“Since children are most vulnerable in disaster situations, our efforts will be focused on children.”

The Philippines is prone to large earthquakes and tsunami, located in the Pacific “ring of fire”, an area of major seismic activity.