Crews Struggle To Open Road To Hard-Hit City; Death Toll Feared Higher
BAGUIO, Philippines (AP) _ Strong aftershocks jolted earthquake-devastated areas in the north today as crews worked to clear a road in this hard-hit mountain resort. More bodies were dug out, raising the death toll to 376.
The number of dead was expected to rise sharply in Baguio, where hundreds of people were believed still trapped in rubble because of a lack of heavy equipment and emergency training.
The city was cut off by landslides in Monday’s quake.
President Corazon Aquino flew in today to assess the damage.
She ordered officials to give top priority to clearing the roads so medicine, food and heavy equipment could be brought in. She also ordered city schools closed for a month.
At Baguio’s Hyatt Hotel, which collapsed in the earthquake, Clarita Gonzales tearfully called out with a megaphone for her 5-year-old daughter trapped in the rubble with her nanny.
″If you are still alive please tap,″ Mrs. Gonzales sobbed.
On Tuesday, Mrs. Aquino declared a state of emergency throughout the quake- stricken area north of Manila on the archipelago nation’s main island, Luzon.
Two aftershocks early today measured 6.3 and 5.8 on the Richter scale, according to the U.S. Geological Service in Golden, Colo. Two more were reported later but precise readings were not immediately available.
No new damage was reported.
Figures compiled by the Office of Civil Defense and the Red Cross showed 360 people were killed and 773 injured from Monday’s earthquake, which registered 7.7 on the Richter scale.
In addition, the Philex Mining Corp., reported 16 people were also killed at its residential compound in Benguet province, but they were not included in the official tallies. The company said 13 of the dead were children.
Officials said at least 82 of the fatalities died in Baguio, where four luxury hotels and 23 other buildings were severely damaged.
But presidential Press Secretary Tomas Gomez said Mrs. Aquino was told that 142 people died in Baguio, including two Americans, one South Korean, a Taiwanese and a Chinese. He gave no names.
U.S. officials could not confirm the report but said an official of the U.S. Agency for International Development was missing. About 1,500 Americans live in the town.
One Baguio funeral director, Filemon Relis, said his mortuary alone received nearly 70 bodies of quake victims. Bodies covered with blankets were lying outside his funeral parlor; there was no room inside.
Monday’s quake, the strongest to strike the Philippines in 14 years, damaged Baguio’s airport and triggered landslides which blocked the four highways leading to the resort.
Highway crews used bulldozers and dynamite today to clear some of the dozens of landslides blocking one of the roads to Baguio. Officials said they hoped to clear the debris later today so that much-needed supplies, including cranes, food and medicine, could reach the city.
The city of 120,000 people had no electricity and was running out of food. Only one service station was open and gasoline was being rationed.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Stanley Schrager said a 14-member military search and rescue team arrived today from Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., and would travel by helicopter to Baguio to join the search.
He said about 20 people injured in Baguio and Cabanatuan City were flown to a U.S. military hospital at Clark Air Base. More than 50 people were killed in Cabanatuan City, 60 miles north of Manila, when a six-story school collapsed.
Japan sent doctors, nurses and $180,000 in relief supplies, and Canada, Thailand, Switzerland, Singapore, Australia and South Korea also sent assistance.
In Dagupan, where 20 people died, firetrucks began delivering drinking water to 31 outlying villages whose water lines were destroyed by the quake.
Officials in the city of more than 100,000 inhabitants, 100 miles north of Manila, said it also was without electricity and that food and drinking water were running low.
Dagupan’s business district sank one to two yards during Monday’s quake, and mud and sea water were seeping out through fissures in the street.
Col. Bienvenido Liclican, spokesman for the military rescue team, appealed over Manila radio stations for tools, blood plasma, medicine and doctors to care for the injured.
Monday’s quake was the worst to strike the Philippines since 1976, when a quake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale killed 8,000 people.
The scale is a measure of ground motion as recorded on seismographs. Every increase of one number means a tenfold increase in magnitude. Thus a reading of 7.5 reflects an earthquake 10 times stronger than one of 6.5.