Quake felt in Bacolod; no reports of damage

BACOLOD. Ayala Mall Central goers were advised to go out of the mall when a jolt was felt. (Contributed photo)

THE 6.5-magnitude earthquake that hit Eastern Samar on Tuesday afternoon, April 23, was also felt in Bacolod City and some nearby localities in Negros Occidental.

People inside the Ayala Malls Capitol Central on Gatuslao Street immediately went out from the establishment after the "slight jolt" around 1:40 p.m.

The mall management, in a statement, said it assisted mall goers and personnel to proceed to the designated evacuation areas.

No damage on the building and injuries were reported. People were allowed to enter the mall at 2:19 p.m.

"Rest assured that the safety of our shoppers and employees is our utmost concern as we resume normal operations," it added.

Employees of the adjacent Provincial Capitol Building also went out from their respective offices due to the quake.

Though no damage on the structure and injuries were monitored, the incident caused about a 30-minute disruption in the Capitol operation.

Some mall goers at SM City Bacolod at the reclamation area also left the structure after experiencing the quake.

The mall's Emergency Response Team guided the customers and immediately conducted standard operating procedures, the management said.

Citing reports from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the Provincial Disaster Management Program Division (PDMPD) said the earthquake was felt at Intensity 2 in the cities of Bacolod and Bago.

Jose Maria Vargas, head of the cluster of City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO), said there was no reported damage in Bacolod City.

Vargas noted that because of the low intensity, the aftershock was not felt in Bacolod.

Vargas said the DRRMO has ongoing earthquake drills in various government offices to ensure the safety of employees and clients.

He said they also sent letters to private business establishments to conduct a drill, but most of them failed to reply.

“This is our problem (lack of cooperation), we need the cooperation of everybody for our own safety. It’s a big help for us,” he added.

Vargas admitted that about 30 percent of commercial buildings in downtown area are not stable enough to withstand strong seismic activities, including the Old City Hall.

He said the buildings 15 years old and above at the downtown area would suffer major cracks in case of strong earthquake scenario.

He added that in previous years, they also sent notices to building owners at the downtown area to make an advance building repair as soon as possible, but the improvements did not materialize.

ZeaphardG erhart Caelian, head of PDMPD, said the earthquake was also felt in other areas, including Cadiz City, Pontevedra and Silay City.

Caelian said no structural damage in the province was monitored. Also, no injuries were reported.

"We have a response and rescue team at the Capitol, the employees are already trained on what to do during untoward incidents like earthquake," he added.

Though aftershocks are only expected near the epicenter of the earthquake, the PDMPD is still monitoring fault lines in Negros Occidental.

Authorities are monitoring if there are movements in the East Negros Fault System, including San Carlos Fault, which stretches from Calatrava in Negros Occidental to some localities in Negros Oriental.

Others earthquake generators in the province are the West Negros Fault, Central Negros Fault and Southern Negros Fault.

Caelian said they are also closely monitoring the Negros Trench, which is more "dangerous" as movements are under the sea.

With the country being vulnerable to earthquakes, officials have been calling for Filipinos to develop a culture of safety and preparedness to prevent natural hazards, such as earthquakes, from turning into disasters.

Authorities have pushed for a regular evaluation and retrofitting of public and private infrastructure to ensure that buildings, bridges and other similar structures can withstand strong earthquakes.


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