AS AFTERSHOCKS continue to rock Surigao del Norte province, officials urged local government units in affected areas to stay alert and be cautious of weakened structures and cracked slopes.

Renato Solidum, Jr., Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) director, said they have not discounted the possibility of another powerful movement of the Surigao Segment of the Philippine Fault Zone (PFC).

"The probability (of another strong earthquake) is low, but we are not discounting it," Solidum told SunStar Philippines.

If this happens, weakened structures could collapse and cracked slopes could trigger landslides.

"Local officials should check and make sure that visibly weakened structures are safe. Each building with cracks should be checked for structural integrity," he added.

Eight people have been reported killed -- four confirmed to be related to the quake while four others were still being verified, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said in a situationer report as of 8 a.m. Monday.

More than 200 people were hurt while most of the 5,170 affected residents have been camping out beside their houses as aftershocks continue to shake the city.

The last major earthquake to hit Surigao was in 1879, with a magnitude of 7.4, Solidum said.

"We have always warned that there's a fault line there (Surigao Segment) and it could move anytime," Solidum said.

More than a hundred aftershocks, including one with a magnitude of 4.9 at 5:11 p.m. on Saturday, February 11, have hit Surigao since then. A 4.1-magnitude aftershock was also felt at 3:51 a.m. Monday, February 13.

Solidum said the aftershocks are expected to continue for several days or even weeks.

He urged LGUs in Surigao del Norte to be cautious or stay clear of structures and slopes with visible cracks.

The NDRRMC reported that a total of 1,054 houses were either destroyed or damaged; 12 school facilities and the Surigao Airport runway sustained cracks; and five road sections and six bridges were damaged.

Damage to infrastructure in Surigao del Norte was placed at P108.45 million.

SEE: Updates on the situation of the Surigao quake

Power was still out in the towns of San Francisco, Malimono, Placer, Sison and Taganaan in Surigao del Norte while it has been restored in parts of Surigao City.

Water systems in Surigao City and the towns of Malimono, Mainit and San Francisco were also damaged.

The Philippine Fault Zone is part of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur frequently. (Marites Villamor-Ilano/SunStar Philippines)

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