7.7-magnitude quake hits Visayas, Mindanao; kills 1-A A +A
Saturday, September 1, 2012
CAGAYAN DE ORO (Updated) -- A magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck Visayas and Mindanao on Friday, killing a 54-year-old woman and damaging seven houses in Cagayan de Oro City.
The tremor, which occurred at 8:47 p.m. Friday, triggered a landslide that buried the house of Emilita Ubalde, 54, in Upper Kolambog, Barangay Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro. Ubalde died in the incident.
Her five-year-old grandson identified as Adrian was injured. He is still being attended to by physicians at the Capitol University Medical City’s emergency room in Barangay Gusa as of this posting.
The earthquake, which was tectonic in origin, also triggered a flash flood in Barangay Tablon, also in Cagayan de Oro City, damaging six houses.
Tsunami alert level 3, which means residents living in coastal areas have to evacuate to higher grounds, was also raised Friday evening in Cagayan de Oro City, as well as in several areas in Visayas and Mindanao due to the quake.
A tsunami is a series of giant sea waves commonly generated by under-the-sea earthquakes and whose heights could be greater than five meters, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) website.
Tsunamis can occur when the earthquake is shallow seated and strong enough to displace parts of the seabed and disturb the mass of water over it.
The Phivolcs lifted the tsunami alert midnight of Friday, almost four hours after the tremor, said Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas on his Twitter account.
The earthquake, according to Phivolcs, struck 112 kilometers (km) southeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar, but the US Geological Survey also located the quake’s epicenter at 94 km east of Sulangan, Eastern Samar; 161 km east southeast of Borongan, Eastern Samar; and 174 km northeast of Surigao.
The quake was felt at intensity 7 in Guiuan, Oras, Sulat, Borongan City, all in Eastern Samar, while intensity 6 was felt in Siargao, Surigao del Norte; Tacloban; Palo, Leyte; and St. Bernard, Southern Leyte.
Intensity 5 was felt in Mati City, Compostela, Legaspi City, Iloilo City, Bislig City, and Iligan City; Intensity 4 in Butuan City, Catbalogan City, and Cagayan de Oro City; Intensity 3 in Cotabato City, Mambajao in Camiguin, and General Santos City; and intensity 2 in Marawi City and Sipalay City.
Radio reports said Friday evening that the lone fatality in Cagayan de Oro City, which felt the tremor at intensity 4, got stuck in the mud after the quake-triggered landslide.
Residents in the area managed to bring Ubalde to the nearby Capitol University Medical City, together with her grandson, but she was declared dead on arrival by attending doctors.
Engr. Armin Cuenca, deputy incident commander of Oro Alert, said in a radio interview that based on their monitoring, only the landslide in Barangay Lapasan was reported as of 11 p.m. Friday.
Cuenca said the earthquake also caused panic among the staff and patients of Polymedic Medical Plaza in Barangay Kauswagan.
“A staff at the hospital called us and asked what to do. They evacuated all their patients to the ground for safety,” he said.
Cuenca said he advised the hospital staff to have the building checked by their safety officer before allowing their patients to go back inside.
Radio reports said patients and staff at the eight-storey Polymedic General Hospital in Velez St. were also evacuated to the ground when the earthquake occurred.
Cuenca said they still have to check the extent of damage from the quake in Cagayan de Oro City Saturday morning.
In Cebu City, the tremors drove night shift workers out of their office buildings, but no injuries were reported. It was the second time since February 6 this year that an earthquake was felt in Cebu. At that time, the 6.9 earthquake that hit Cebu was the strongest recorded temblor in Central Visayas in about 90 years.
In Eastern Samar, blackout was reported after the quake. Several families living in coastal areas were evacuated to higher grounds following the tsunami alert raised by Phivolcs.
The Phivolcs said that the first tsunami wave occurred in Eastern Samar at 9:42 p.m. No damage due to tsunami was reported.
Evacuation also happened Friday in Northern Samar, where damages on roads and bridges were monitored.
Northern Samar Governor Paul Daza said in radio and television reports on Friday evening that cracks on road networks and bridges in Catarman, the province’s capital, was reported by some residents in the area.
He also said that all local officials in the province were ordered to evacuate families in coastal areas to safer grounds.
In Surigao and Southern Leyte, hundreds of families were also told to move away from coastal areas along the Pacific Ocean. There were no immediate reports of damages or casualties.
President Benigno Aquino III ordered Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, who is also chairman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, to coordinate with Phivolcs to ensure that the affected Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils inform the local government officials regarding the situation.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement Friday that Aquino also wants Gazmin to coordinate with Phivolcs to further ensure that the evacuation in the affected areas will be peaceful and orderly.
As of this posting Saturday, the government is still monitoring and assessing the situation in the provinces hit by the 7.7-magnitude earthquake. (LRM/With Terry Betonio/Sunnex)