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14 SRR teams deployed in quake-hit areas —AFP

At least 14 search, rescue, and retrieval (SRR) teams were deployed to affected areas following the magnitude 7 earthquake that jolted Abra in Northern Luzon, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Thursday.

According to the AFP, the 24th Infantry Battalion (24IB) assisted and evacuated patients in a hospital in Bangued, Abra and personnel of the 71IB have been deployed since Wednesday to rescue affected residents in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

Meanwhile, the 54IB, 72nd Division Reconnaissance Company, 502nd Infantry Brigade, and CAFGU Active Auxiliary units helped in road-clearing efforts, provided transportation assistance, and conducted search and rescue operations in different areas in Northern Luzon, it added. 

Also, the AFP ordered the 525th Engineering and Construction Battalion, Philippine Army, 505th Search and Rescue Group of the Philippine Air Force, and the Naval Installation Command of the Philippine Navy to render necessary assistance and efforts in the most affected areas.

Lieutenant General Ernesto Torres Jr., commander of the AFP's Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM), also directed the utilization of one C208 aircraft for the aerial survey.

“Today, soldiers continue the search, rescue, and retrieval operations while other units are helping the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) distribute relief goods to the affected populace,” the AFP said in a statement.

“The AFP leadership has ordered its units through the Northern Luzon Command to maximize the utilization of personnel, equipment, and other resources to support the humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts of the local and national governments in badly hit areas to alleviate the situation of the affected residents,” it added.

Four people have been reported dead, while the number those injured due to the quake has risen to 131, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (NDRRMC) said on Thursday.

A total of 12,945 individuals or 3,456 families in 149 barangays in Cordillera were affected by the earthquake, the NDRRMC said.

The quake struck at 8:43 a.m. on Wednesday and was located at 17.64°N, 120.63°E - 003 km N 45° W of Tayum in Abra and had a depth of 17 kilometers, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) said.

It was felt strongly in many Luzon areas, including Metro Manila. —LBG, GMA News