Filipino among injured in strong Italy earthquake

By Mark Joseph Ubalde – A Filipino was hurt in the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that hit the Italian city of L’Aquila on Monday morning (Italy time), while 100 others take refuge in an evacuation center there.

Jefferson Pugal survived and is now receiving medical attention, GMA News’ 24 Oras reported on Monday evening. Meanwhile, 100 other Filipinos have sought refuge in an Italian evacuation center after the earthquake hit L’Aquila at around 3 a.m., destroying their homes.

“The earthquake was really strong,” said Alma Lee Oliveros, one of the Filipino evacuees in Italy. “Until now we can still feel the earth shaking.”

Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ed Malaya earlier told GMANews.TV that no Filipino has been reportedly killed or injured as of Monday afternoon.

But this could change later on as authorities begin identifying the names, ages and nationalities of all casualties. DzBB radio correspondent ‘Marita’ said that Italian rescuers are more focused on the search and rescue operations.

As of Monday evening the death toll has climbed to 50, with more being feared dead as one dormitory with students inside has yet to be cleared by rescuers.

Reports on any Filipino casualty had also been slowed down as the Philippine Embassy in Italy had been closed due to the April 9 ‘Day of Valor’ holiday (“Araw ng Kagitingan”), which has been moved to Monday, Marita said.

The Commission on Filipinos Overseas estimated that there are more than 120,000 Filipinos in Italy in 2007. Out of this number, almost 83,000 are Filipino workers while more than 24, 000 are permanent residents. About 150 Filipinos are reportedly in L’Aquila when the earthquake hit.

Relatives who wish to hear news from their loved ones in Italy may get in touch with the Philippine Embassy in Rome thru telephone number: 39-06-39746621.

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