More than 1 million children affected by Davao quake, says int'l group

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FILE PHOTO. After getting hit by a series of earthquakes in Cotabato in October, children and their families raise the urgency for alternative homes and clean water to drink, among other basic needs.

CNN Philippines (Metro Manila, December 17) – More than a million children were affected by the 6.9-magnitude earthquake that hit Davao del Sur over the weekend.

In the initial assessment of Save the Children Philippines, an international humanitarian group, quake-related damage in various municipalities has raised the urgent need for children and their families to have alternative homes, clean water to drink, among others.

"Our assessment shows that there are more than 1 million children affected by the recent earthquake," said Jerome Balinton, Save the Children Phlippines humanitarian manager.

"We have observed families and children setting up makeshift tents in front of their houses due to fear of aftershocks. We have also been informed by the municipal government unit that the water sources were affected. They are needing clean water right now, particularly in Padada ang Hagonoy," Balinton told CNN Philippines.

The municipalities that were hit by the strong quake were the same towns jolted by the series of tremors in October and November. These include Kidapawan City, General Santos, Bansalan in Davao del Sur, Alabel and Malapatan, and Sarangani in Koronadal City.

Citing data from international group Pacific Disaster Center, Save the Children said about 4.4 million people equivalent to 830,000 households live in the affected towns.

"We are anticipating prolonged displacement [of these families]," Balinton said.

The quake that struck at 2:11 p.m. on Sunday was the strongest in the series of quakes that hit Mindanao last October.

As of Tuesday morning, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRMC) confirmed that the death toll has risen to seven.

The first fatality was a 6-year-old girl from the town of Matanao–where the epicenter of the quake was located– after she was unable to flee her house before it collapsed.

A 6.3-magnitude quake first hit the region on October 16, followed by a 6.1 and 6.6-magnitude tremor on October 29, and a 6.5-magnitude quake on October 31.

"The impact of these earthquakes is compounding. It adds burden to the affected families," Balinton noted.

For donations, visit @donate.savethechildren.org.ph for further details.