AT LEAST 159 Filipinos have been evacuated in western Japan after a 7.6-magnitude earthquake rocked the island of Honshu on Monday, resulting in a tsunami sweeping the west coast, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
No Filipino was among the 30 reported fatalities, based on official reports on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Jose Eduardo A. de Vega told BusinessWorld in a WhatsApp message.
But he confirmed the number of Filipinos who fled danger areas and stayed at evacuation centers. A total of 157 of them have since returned to their homes, according to latest updates reaching the DFA.
On Monday, the Japanese government issued tsunami warnings for the central prefecture of Ishikawa and the coastal areas of Toyama, Fukui, and Hyogo prefectures as over 140 tremors have been detected since the first quake hit the coast.
Over 100,000 people were ordered to evacuate their homes to sports halls and school gymnasiums.
In an advisory later the same day, the Migrant Workers Office of the Philippine Consulate General in Osaka asked employers and supervisors in the affected prefectures to immediately report any incident involving Filipino workers related to the earthquakes.
Here in Manila, the Department of Migrant Workers activated hotlines for affected Japan-based migrant workers.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. also issued this statement: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the magnitude 7.6 earthquake in Japan on New Year’s Day. We are in close collaboration with the Japanese government to secure the welfare of our countrymen, who thankfully remain unharmed.”
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had ordered over 3,000 Japanese army personnel, firefighters and policemen across the country to the quake sites in the Ishikawa prefecture.
“The search and rescue of those impacted by the quake is a battle against time,” he told an emergency meeting on Tuesday.
Local authorities said the 30 deaths were all in Ishikawa prefecture, but more than 33,000 households in Western Japan were plunged in darkness due to power outages.
Temperatures in the area have reached below-freezing numbers, according to Hokuriku Electric Power Company, which supplies power to Toyama, Ishikawa, and Fukui prefectures.
There are about 469 Filipinos living in the Ishikawa Prefecture and 725 in the Toyama Prefecture, Migrant workers officer-in-charge Hans Leo J. Cacdac said in a statement.
He said about 90% of them work in the manufacturing, welding, and carpentry sectors, while 10% are caregivers.
“We are monitoring the employment situation of OFWs, especially in the Ishikawa and Toyama Prefectures. We will provide financial assistance to OFWs whose employment has been suspended or ceased due to the quake,” Mr. Cacdac said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez