WORK was disrupted after hundreds of employees were evacuated in Cebu City after a magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck Eastern Samar at 1:37 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23.
In Cebu, the quake was felt at different intensities: Intensity 3 in Cebu City, Bogo City and Argao; Intensity 2 in Mandaue City; and Intensity 1 in Lapu-Lapu City.
Magnitude refers to the energy released by an earthquake, while intensity refers to the strength of the shaking, which varies in different locations.
Schools like the University of San Jose-Recoletos suspended their classes.
“All are now suspended until tomorrow as per the instruction of the Father President. This is to give time for the engineers to check the buildings after an earthquake,” the school said in a statement.
The tremor sent some employees of government offices and private companies rushing outside in panic.
Employees of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau 7 evacuated their building after the quake. Business process outsourcing employees at the I.T. Park, Cebu Business Park and Oakridge Business Park were also evacuated after the quake was felt in high-rise buildings.
The quake, which was tectonic in origin and had a depth of 17 kilometers, had its epicenter located northwest of San Julian, Eastern Samar, said the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
It was followed by four more tremors, with the latest having a magnitude 4.6 and centered northeast of Catbalogan, Samar.
Residents in San Julian, Eastern Samar felt the magnitude 6.5 quake at Intensity 6.
Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum reminded residents to expect damage and aftershocks, but he said the quake would not trigger a tsunami.
Meanwhile, Robinson Jorgio, a seismic observer at Phivolcs in Lapu-Lapu City, said last Tuesday’s quake was not connected to the tremor that shook Central Luzon last Monday afternoon, April 22.
Aside from being far apart, the quakes happened on different fault lines, Jorgio said.
Since no one can predict when and where an earthquake will strike next, he urged private and public sectors to comply with building requirements to make sure the structures are earthquake-resistant.
“The shaking caused by the earthquake does not kill. But it can cause some structures to collapse, resulting in injuries and deaths. And since we in this country have experienced strong earthquakes, I hope we’ve learned our lesson. Earthquakes can strike anytime, anywhere,” Jorgio said in Cebuano.
After the quake shook Cebu, firefighters from Mandaue City and Bantay Mandaue responded to a smoke alarm at the Gaisano Grand Mall in Barangay Centro past 2 p.m.
Mall management immediately evacuated the building when smoke was detected on the fifth floor near the power house. Firefighters put on a breathing apparatus to prevent them from inhaling toxic fumes.
Investigators have yet to determine if the fire was caused by the earthquake or by the high temperature outside.
No one was hurt in the incident.
Tuesday’s tremor occurred just a day after a 6.1-magnitude earthquake hit Zambales and affected several areas in Luzon, including Metro Manila.
As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, 11 fatalities had been reported in Luzon. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said 81 were injured and 24 remained missing. (JOB, SunStar Philippines, FMD of SuperBalita Cebu, PJB)