Earthquakes hit Philippines

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Rescue and medical teams from the Armed Forces of the Philippines have been dispatched to the affected areas. (AP)
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A damaged house remains in Itbayat town, Batanes islands, northern Philippines after a strong earthquake struck on Saturday July 27, 2019. (AP)
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Damaged houses lie in Itbayat town, Batanes islands, northern Philippines following the earthquakes, Saturday, July 27, 2019. (AP)
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A resident looks at damages in Itbayat town, Batanes islands, northern Philippines on Saturday, July 27, 2019. (AP)
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People gather on a field after an earthquake struck the Batanes Province, in northern Philippines, July 27, 2019, in this photo obtained from social media. (Reuters)
Updated 28 July 2019

Earthquakes hit Philippines

  • Search and rescue operations ongoing amid heavy rainfall, aftershocks

MANILA, Philippines: Two earthquakes on Saturday shook the Philippines’ northernmost municipality of Itbayat in Batanes province, killing at least eight people, including an infant, and injuring 60.

Itbayat, a remote coastal municipality barely touched by modernization and with limited electricity supply, has a population of nearly 3,000 and is 156 km from the southernmost tip of Taiwan.
The Department of Science and Technology — Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Batanes was initially hit by a magnitude 5.4 earthquake at 4:16 a.m., with intensity 6 felt in Itbayat. Intensity 3 was felt in the municipalities of Basco and Sabtang.
Then at 7:38 a.m., a magnitude 5.9 earthquake rocked the province. Intensity 7 was felt in Itbayat, intensity 5 in Basco and intensity 4 in Sabtang and Ivana. Strong aftershocks were recorded.
Officials said people were asleep when the initial earthquake struck. Office of Civil Defense (OCD) administrator Ricardo Jalad said the first tremor caused houses to collapse, killing five people. Three others were killed in the following earthquake. As in other parts of Batanes, many houses in Itbayat are made of stone to withstand strong storms because the province lies in the path of tropical cyclones.
Aside from collapsed limestone houses, damaged structures include the historic belfry of the Nuestra Senora Del Rosario Church.

HIGHLIGHTS

Batanes was initially hit by a magnitude 5.4 earthquake at 4.16 a.m., with intensity 6 felt in Itbayat. Intensity 3 was felt in the municipalities of Basco and Sabtang.

Itbayat Mayor Raul De Sagon said residents are currently staying at the town plaza. Disaster response and rescue teams from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and medical teams from the health department, have been dispatched to the area.
There are reports that some of the wounded need to be airlifted to Basco for treatment. De Sagon appealed for medicines and doctors for the immediate treatment of those injured.
Videos shared on social media showed residents of Itbayat manually retrieving some of the victims. Search and rescue operations are ongoing amid heavy rainfall and aftershocks.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said government agencies, including the OCD, are coordinating with distressed local government units and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in Batanes.
He said President Rodrigo Duterte has been briefed on the situation, and he directed all agencies to undertake measures to provide assistance to the victims and rehabilitate damaged properties.


Plastic particles in drinking water present ‘low’ risk — World Health Organization

Updated 13 min 25 sec ago

Plastic particles in drinking water present ‘low’ risk — World Health Organization

  • WHO issues first report on microplastics in drinking water
  • Reassures consumers that risk is low, but says more study needed
GENEVA: Microplastics contained in drinking water pose a “low” risk to human health at current levels, but more research is needed to reassure consumers, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
Studies over the past year on plastic particles detected in tap and bottled water have sparked public concerns but the limited data appears reassuring, the UN agency said its first report on potential health risks associated with ingestion.
Microplastics enter drinking water sources mainly through run-off and wastewater effluent, the WHO said. Evidence shows that microplastics found in some bottled water seem to be at least partly due to the bottling process and/or packaging such as plastic caps, it said.
“The headline message is to reassure drinking water consumers around the world, that based on this assessment, our assessment of the risk is that it is low,” Bruce Gordon of the WHO’s department of public health, environmental and social determinants of health, told a briefing.
The WHO did not recommended routine monitoring for microplastics in drinking water. But research should focus on issues including what happens to chemical additives in the particles once they enter the gastrointestinal tract, it said.
The majority of plastic particles in water are larger than 150 micrometers in diameter and are excreted from the body, while “smaller particles are more likely to cross the gut wall and reach other tissues,” it said.
Health concerns have centered around smaller particles, said Jennifer De France, a WHO technical expert and one of the report’s authors.
“For these smallest size particles, where there is really limited evidence, we need know more about what is being absorbed, the distribution and their impacts,” she said.
More research is needed into risks from microplastics exposure throughout the environment — “in our drinking water, air and food,” she added.
Alice Horton, a microplastics researcher at Britain’s National Oceanography Center, said in a statement on the WHO’s findings: “There are no data available to show that microplastics pose a hazard to human health, however this does not necessarily mean that they are harmless.”
“It is important to put concerns about exposure to microplastics from drinking water into context: we are widely exposed to microplastics in our daily lives via a wide number of sources, of which drinking water is just one.”
Plastic pollution is so widespread in the environment that you may be ingesting five grams a week, the equivalent of eating a credit card, a study commissioned by the environmental charity WWF International said in June. That study said the largest source of plastic ingestion was drinking water, but another major source was shellfish.
The biggest overall health threat in water is from microbial pathogens — including from human and livestock waste entering water sources — that cause deadly diarrheal disease, especially in poor countries lacking water treatment systems, the WHO said.
Some 2 billion people drink water contaminated with faeces, causing nearly 1 million deaths annually, Gordon said, adding: “That has got to be the focus of regulators around the world.”