Philippines quake victims need water, aid, prayer

Rescuers search for survivors after a 68 magnitude earthquake struck Padada town Davao del Sur province in the Philippines Dec 16 2019 Credit Ferdinandh Cabrera AFP via Getty Images Rescuers search for survivors after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck Padada town, Davao del Sur province in the Philippines, Dec. 16, 2019. | Ferdinandh Cabrera/AFP via Getty Images.

After a southern Philippines earthquake killed at least nine and displaced thousands of people on Monday, survivors emphasized their need for fresh water, and Catholic leaders called for prayer and aid for the victims as Christmas approaches.

"Let us remember our brothers and sisters in Mindanao, who experienced an earthquake that is even stronger than the previous ones," Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila said in his Dec. 16 homily at Manila's cathedral, CBCP News reports.

The 6.9-magnitude earthquake in the southern Philippines province of Davao del Sur came the day before many Filipino Catholics began to observe the Advent tradition of Simbang Gabi, a nine-day series of Masses held to honor the Virgin Mary and to prepare for Christmas.

"Let us stand together with our brethren, who are, at this time, attending the Simbang Gabi not inside a beautiful church but are still manifesting their faith," said the cardinal.

The area continues to suffer in the wake of deadly quakes since October, which have left tens of thousands homeless.

Bishop Guillermo Afable of Digos, speaking to Radio Veritas, asked Filipinos to pray the rosary.

"We call on all Filipinos to pray together the Holy Rosary, especially today. Because this is the best thing to do in times of danger," he said.

Survivors have appealed for clean water, food, and tents for shelter

The earthquake broke or disrupted water supplies. In some areas water from deep wells is not safe because of contamination.

Some residents lined up along the highway in the coastal town of Padada in Davao del Sur province to beg for water, UCA News reports.

"What is needed most is water, then food and makeshift tents," Kausin Gerbolino told UCA News. He had walked to the roadside from a coastal village far from the highway, where it is difficult to deliver aid.

At least three earthquakes of magnitude 6.5 or higher have hit the area since October, the New York Times reports. The latest quake centered near Davao City.

President Rodrigo Duterte placed disaster relief officials and security forces on heightened alert.

The area suffered hundreds of aftershocks.

In the village of Padada, authorities closed the only market in the town due to major damage. A store collapsed there during the quake, killing at least two people.

After October's earthquakes, engineers set up temporary water lines from natural springs to the town of Magsayay. However, these temporary lines to the water supply were destroyed in the earthquake.

"We are appealing for more help, especially water, because we just don't need it for drinking, but also for cooking and sanitation," said Anthony Allada, information officer of Magsayay, UCA News reports.

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Dec. 18 figures from government agencies indicate that nine people died, one was missing, and 111 were injured. Another 100,000 people were affected, with at least 37,000 in Padada alone.

At least six churches were destroyed and another 41 public structures were either damaged or destroyed.

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