Quake turns family visit to Philippines to fear in seconds
THE wife of Daily Examiner fishing writer Dick Richards is still shaken after witnessing an earthquake in the Philippines which has so far claimed the lives of 107 people.
Faith Richards phoned her husband on Tuesday morning from her mother's home on the island of Cebu, just minutes after the house at Carcar had been shaken in the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that smashed the central island of Bohol.
"It was frightening; I was terrified," were the first words Mrs Richards said to her husband. Faith had returned to her home after three years in Australia to visit her family and attend the graduation of her daughter from university.
"I was just getting ready to have a shower, when there was a loud noise like several big trucks or tractors and the house started to shake," she said.
"I grabbed a towel and ran outside and could hear some of the neighbours screaming and yelling.
"The shake lasted for what seemed a long time, but was probably less than a minute - but it was scary."
Rescue workers have been racing to reach isolated communities which have been hit by landslides and seen century-old churches and bridges collapse.
Aftershocks tormented survivors.
"We were lucky, where I lived up in the hills there was no worry about a tsunami," Mrs Richards said.
"But a lot of people were killed on Bohol which is only about 80 km across the strait from Cebu and there was a lot of damage in Cebu city.
"Some of the very old buildings in the city were badly damaged, but in Carcar, although some of the roads had broken surfaces, we were lucky.
"My house is made of concrete blocks and there are now a few tiny cracks in the brickwork, but nothing serious."
Only a few minutes after her terrified call to Australia, mobile phone connection was lost as well as power and water.
Electricity was restored within 24 hours to her home, but only a trickle of water was getting through intermittently.
Most business houses, schools and shops were closed on Tuesday while a state of emergency had been declared in Cebu city.
The university graduation has been postponed for several days, and the airport in Cebu was alsoclosed.
"I'm looking forward to getting back to Australia where we don't have earthquakes like this," Mrs Richards said.
"But I would like to bring back the tail of the typhoon I landed in on my flight - I'd forgotten how heavy the rain can be."