Death Toll Rises In Philippines Earthquake

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the central Philippine island of Bohol on Tuesday left over 100 people dead, with the death toll continuing to rise as rescuers struggled to reach patients in a collapsed hospital. Complicating rescue efforts, the area affected was home to many old structures which seemed to simply crumble.

Around the island, 23 bridges were left impassable. Five roads were closed and 17 old coral-stone churches were damaged. The quake was centered about 385 miles south-southeast of Manila at a depth of 12 miles.

“Right now we are in the streets because it is unsafe to be inside,” said Maryann Zamora, a communications specialist with the charity World Vision in a CNN report. “Tell everyone to pray for us.”While there is no widespread threat of a tsunami, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center warned that earthquakes this large can sometimes cause tsunamis within 100 kilometers of the epicenter.

Flight attendants find dead Filipino passenger in Gulf Air lavatory

The cause of death – including suicide – still isn’t clear, but the facts are. Gulf Air flight attendants found a 36-year-old Filipino passenger dead in the plane lav today; he was flying home to Manila from Bahrain. Attempts to revive him using CPR were unsuccessful.

The event occurred on Gulf Air flight 154, and is the second strange lav event in as many months. In September, according to the Associated Press, an abandoned baby was found in the trash bin after a Filipino maid gave birth in the lav. This time, however, the outcome was life, as airport doctors were able to save the child.

The passenger‘s wife and relatives had traveled to the airport to meet him.

[photo by advencap via Flickr]

Daily Pampering: The world’s most expensive sushi

Really top-notch sushi is pricey, no doubt about it. But you work hard, and if you’re a fan of the raw fish, there’s nothing like a serious splurge when your wallet’s fat.

Angelito Araneta, Jr. laughs in your face. The 21-year-old, Manila-based chef, known for his “unusual” food artworks, recently debuted the world’s most expensive sushi, which goes for 91,800 pesos-an estimated $2,000 to $2,700 USD, depending upon which news report you read. The five-piece nigiri, which appears to be augmented with crab, is encrusted with .20-karat African (“gives new meaning to blood”) diamonds, and wrapped in 24-karat gold leaf. Because sometimes, you just have a hankering for precious gems with your hamachi.

Araneta’s prior stunt was a diamond-studded, gold-leaf wrapped wedding cake, which sells for approximately $2,500. The young entrepreneur sells his culinary objets d’art as gifts for courtships or marriage proposals. The downside? Getting the diamonds back after the meal…

Want more? Get your daily dose of pampering right here.

Photo of the Day 2.17.10

I love photos that make you wonder about the conversation taking place. Today’s photo is courtesy of Malou Arevalo, who captured this poetic shot of the sunset over Manila Bay, Manila, Philippines.

This photo provides the perfect amount of warmth under all the snow blanketing the U.S.

Have a photo you want considered for a future Photo of the Day? Upload it to Gadling’s Flickr group.

Tourism in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Samoa in light of recent disasters

In light of the recent quakes in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Samoa and the total devastation in the areas surrounding Manila, Padang, and Apia, it’s important to understand what tourism will look like as these tourism hot spots recover. Here’s a look at the current relief work happening in each locale, and some speculation as to what tourism will look like in the coming year.

The Philippines
Nearly a third of Manila, the capital city, was under water after a devastating quake late last month. Today, news is coming in that a second quake hit the Moro Gulf off Mindanao. Recovery in the city will certainly be slow and difficult, and as the main hub in the Philippines, travel will be slow and treacherous, meaning travelers to the Philippines might be better off waiting a few months before embarking on a pleasure trip.

Two massive earthquakes rocked Indonesia. Most recently, the popular surf destination of Padang was completely brought to rubble. Several tourists — most of whom are surfers — are still missing and presumed dead, and the recovery process in this remote area of Sumatra will be very slow. Indonesia has long been a top surfing destination, but in the wake of these earthquakes and the political unrest in this part of the country, travelers may well be wary of traveling to this area — and rightly so.

My friend recently returned from a surf trip from Samoa, where she and her boyfriend missed a swell, but are now feeling just fortunate to be safe and home. The resort she stayed in has now been completely destroyed by the tsunami that hit the island after an earthquake struck offshore. Samoa, too, will be slow to recover from such devastation. Like Indonesia, the country is slowly becoming a hot surf destination, but surfers will likely head to less volatile areas in light of these natural disasters.

While tourism for pleasure may slow in all these areas, volunteer opportunities abound. Should you be interested in helping a hand on ground in one of these countries, visit one of the following websites for more information.