CARE International is deeply concerned for the safety and mental health of the vulnerable communities, especially women and children, in Surigao del Sur, the southern part of the Philippines, following a powerful 7.5-magnitude earthquake that struck the region on Saturday 2 December 2023, at 10:37 PM (Philippine Standard Time).
The earthquake caused widespread damage, with tremors felt across Mindanao and parts of Visayas. The epicenter was located 25 kilometers deep, prompting a tsunami warning that led to immediate evacuations in coastal areas. Although the waves were minimal, and the alert was canceled, over 659 aftershocks, including several with magnitudes ranging from 1.4 to 6.2, have rattled the region since the quake.
There was also significant damage to infrastructure, forcing people to leave their homes and stay in evacuation centers. The full extent of the damage is still unfolding, but initial reports indicate that 2,600 people have been displaced and many others have been injured.
"CARE and partners are on the ground across affected areas to assess the damage and prepare to assist the hardest-hit communities," said Reiza S. Dejito, CARE Philippines Director. "We are especially concerned about how this earthquake and its aftershocks have affected vulnerable groups, particularly women and children. Initial reports indicate psychological distress and panic among the affected population, as many residents are experiencing an earthquake of such severity for the first time. It has also been noted that numerous children were visibly distressed due to the incident.”
In the wake of the earthquake, priority needs include mental health support for distressed residents, particularly children; food assistance for displaced families; shelter repair and reconstruction; and essential household items. Additionally, protecting vulnerable groups in evacuation areas to ensure their safety, privacy, and access to specific needs is of paramount importance.
CARE's work in the Philippines
CARE has been in the Philippines since 1949. The country is highly exposed to climate emergencies and geologic hazards including earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
CARE Philippines has supported relief efforts to many emergencies across the country, including the Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, the earthquake in Surigao city in 2017, Mayon volcano eruption in 2018, Super Typhoon Goni in 2020, and most recently typhoon Odette in in 2021.
For media inquiries, please contact Iolanda Jaquemet, Senior Humanitarian Communications Coordinator, CARE International via: [email protected].