By Judy Flores-Partlow
At least 22 people have been confirmed dead in Negros Oriental following the Magnitude 6.9 earthquake that rocked the capital, Dumaguete City, and other parts of the province Monday amid fears the death toll would still rise in the coming days.
Scores of people were also reported missing as government and private groups are working round-the-clock to hopefully recover those believed to have been buried in landslides in Guihulngan City and La Libertad.
As of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, chaired by Governor Roel Degamo, officially placed the death toll at 22, with 12 in Guihulngan City, three in Jimalalud, three in Bindoy, one in Manjuyod and three in Tayasan.
Earlier Tuesday, reports reaching the 302nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army had placed the number of deaths at 48 based on information provided them by the local government units. However, the figures were reduced after the Philippine Army learned that not all believed dead in various towns and cities were accounted for.
Col. Francisco Patrimonio, commander of the 302nd Brigade, said that without a “body count”, those still missing until today ought not to be reported as “dead” yet while search and rescue operations continue.
The PDRRMC report said that 82 people were reported missing, to include 40 in Barangay Planas, Guihulngan and 42 in Barangay Solonggon, La Libertad due to landslides that buried several houses following the earthquake and its aftershocks that left at least 70 families affected.