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Thousands flee Batangas quakes

Thousands fled their homes and slept outdoors in the aftermath of a series of strong earthquakes that struck Batangas, a province still reeling from a previous tremor.

A total of 3,053 individuals were brought to 11 evacuation centers while patients were moved out of general hospitals in Lipa, according to Georgina Garcia, information officer of the region’s disaster council.

In Mabini, 2,000 converged in front of the town hall where they spent the night.

The province was hit by three strong quakes on Saturday, triggering landslides, cutting power, destroying homes, and rendering some roads possible.

Despite several aftershocks, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology dismissed the possibility of a tsunami.

Fortunately, disaster officials have yet to report any casualty.

Mount Maculot in Cuenca, Batangas was one of the areas hit by landslides.

There were reports that the mountain was declared off-limits to hikers yesterday.

Landslides were also reported in some parts of Batangas City, Agoncillo, and Bauan. Clearing operations are under way to make roads passable.

Camp Netanya, an upscale resort in Mabini, was hit hard, part of its buildings collapsing onto three parked vehicles.

Hospitals and churches were not spared.

Patients of the Taal Polymedic and residents of Barangay Tatlong Maria were evacuated and temporarily sheltered in the municipal hall in Taal.

Also damaged was the Mabini general hospital in Barangay Pulong Niogan.

In Batangas City, the pastoral building of the Basilica of the Immaculate

Concepcion parish church collapsed. Cracks also appeared on the ceiling of the Jesus of Nazareth Hospital.

In Lipa City, cracks formed on the wall of Lipa City Hospital and Robinsons Mall.

Meanwhile, the provincial board of Batangas is still awaiting the assessment report from disaster officials before it acts on the request of Gov. Hermilando Mandanas to declare a state of calamity in the province.

The board is expected to convene today to discuss Mandanas’ request.

Under the state of calamity, the governor will be granted a P49.2 million quick response fund which is equivalent to a third of the province’s calamity fund this year. (With reports from Francis Wakefield, Danny Estacio, Lyka Manalo, and the Philippine News Agency)