MANILA, Mar 22 (Mabuhay) – At least two Filipinos were confirmed killed in the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan last March 11, a Philippine diplomat in Japan said Tuesday.
Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel Lopez described the fatalities as a mother and daughter who died in the tsunami triggered by the magnitude-9.0 quake.
“Confirmed yan, mag-ina. Kahapon nadiskubre kahapon namatay dahil sa tsunami, sa Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture (We can confirm the mother and daughter were found dead in the wake of the tsunami, in Iwaki City in Fukushima Prefecture),” he said.
The embassy released the names as Grace Agnes Oprecio-Hiruta, 45, and her daughter Maria, 12.
Lopez said the identities of the two were confirmed by Graceâ€™s Japanese spouse. Oprecio hailed from ParaÃ±aque City.
Lopez said the victims’ relatives had been advised of the incident, and that the victimsâ€™ kin in Tokyo are going to Iwaki City.
The envoy said it is possible more Filipino casualties may be confirmed in the coming days.
“Ang figures ng Japanese government, tumataas every day mga confirmed. Maaari pero I hope wala sanang madagdag sa dalawang ito (Japanese government figures are rising daily. I can only hope there will be no more Filipino casualties),” he said.
He said at least 40 more Filipinos are still unaccounted for in the quake- and tsunami-hit areas.
Meanwhile, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration head Carmelita Dimzon admitted the two fatalities may not be automatically entitled to OWWA benefits, especially if they are not registered as members.
“Kung sila ay residente, maaring tutulong sa atin ang national government pero ang OWWA kung di sila member wala tayong programa sa ganoon (The national government may still extend assistance to them but if they are not OWWA members, we do not have programs for them),” she said.
In the meantime, she said the Philippine embassy in Tokyo will continue to relocate Filipinos from the Fukushima area, which is threatened by radiation from a quake-crippled nuclear plant.