Manila, July 29 (EFE).- The death toll from a massive earthquake that hit the Philippines earlier this week has risen to six, with at least four people still missing and about 80,000 affected, authorities said on Friday.
The magnitude-7.0 earthquake struck Luzon, the most populous island in the Philippines, and the location of its capital city.
All the deaths occurred in the provinces of Abra, Montana, and Benguet.
Search and rescue crews are looking for four missing people from Abra and Montana, the worst-hit regions, national emergency service sources told EFE.
The tremor has left at least 136 people injured and forced 7,300 people to flee their homes, over 1,000 of whom are still in evacuation shelters.
The authorities urged residents on Friday to remain alert for new aftershocks of the magnitude-7 earthquake that struck the country on Wednesday.
There have already been over 1,000 aftershocks.
Abra province is under a state-of-calamity from Thursday.
“Destruction of houses, buildings, and bridges have paralyzed the operation of business establishments,” the resolution decreeing the state of calamity said.
The powerful earthquake, recorded at 8:43 am on Wednesday, caused damage in almost 30 cities and affected historic buildings and infrastructure facilities.
Material losses already exceed 48.3 million Philippine pesos (some $875,000).
The quake damaged a 16th-century cathedral and several historic structures in Vigan, the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in Asia.
“The work of assessing damage to historic buildings has not yet concluded for fear of collapses” amid the continuous aftershocks of the earthquake, the spokesperson of Vigan’s emergency service, Neela Alquiza, told EFE.
The Philippines sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a long horseshoe-shaped seismically active belt of earthquake epicenters, volcanoes, and tectonic plate boundaries that fringes the Pacific basin.
Some 7,000 tremors shake the belt each year. But most are moderate in intensity. EFE