3 quakes in 1 day

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

A 7.7-MAGNITUDE earthquake last night hit more than 40 areas in the country and compelled authorities to call for coastal communities to be evacuated in Samar, Leyte and Surigao.

Initial reports said a 50-year-old woman died and her five-year-old relative was injured in a landslide in Barangay Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

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 Feb. 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.


Last night’s quake was stronger. It was also just one of three recorded yesterday between 11:22 a.m. and 8:47 p.m., struck off Guian, Eastern Samar, about 10 kilometers underwater.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) head office raised a Tsunami Alert Level 3, calling on people living in coastal areas along the Pacific Ocean to immediately evacuate to higher ground.

Phivolcs Science Research Assistant Carl Vincent Soriano said the tsunami alert was raised by 9:01 p.m. for coastal areas in Northern and Eastern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur.

“Boats at sea are advised to stay in the deeper parts of the open seas until the threat has passed. If there is sufficient time, boats in harbors and enclosed bays are advised to go to the deeper parts of the open seas until the threat has passed,” the agency said in the tsunami bulletin.

The tsunami alert was lifted around 12:10 a.m.

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 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 recorded three earthquakes yesterday.

There were two milder quakes, a 3.3-magnitude quake near Palanan in Isabela at 1:40 p.m. and before that, at 11:22 a.m., a 3.4-magnitude earthquake east of Palapag, Northern Samar.

Alvin Santillana, action officer of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Council, said residents in vulnerable areas were advised to move out of their homes and away from walls.

Soriano told Sun.Star Cebu the agency is continuing to monitor the effects of the earthquake.

The US Geological Survey website listed the quake’s magnitude as 7.9.

In a separate report, the US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that a tsunami warning was also in effect in Indonesia, Belau, Yap, Taiwan, Japan, Guam, Northern Marianas and Papua New Guinea.

The same report stated that it was not known whether or not a tsunami was generated, and that the warning was based only on the earthquake evaluation.

According to the NDRRMC, five houses were damaged in a flashflood after the quake in Barangay Tablon, Cagayan de Oro and the homeowners were evacuated.

The agency identified the woman who died, also in Cagayan de Oro, as Emilita Ubalde, 50. A five-year-old child, Adrian Ubalde, was reported injured. (His relation to the victim could not be confirmed.)

The intensities at which different cities felt the quake ranged from two to seven. The tremors were strongest in Guian, Oras, Sulat, Borongan City, Eastern Samar, and Tacloban City, said the NDRRMC.

These were weakest (Intensity II) in Cebu City, Marawi City, Sipalay City; and Hinigaran, La Carlota and La Granja in Negros Occidental.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 01, 2012.

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