Unexpected twist: Davao City, anticipating rain, hit by Intensity 4 earthquake

Shoppers and staff at SM Lanang, evacuated the premises as a strong earthquake briefly shook Davao City on Friday afternoon, November 17. A magnitude 6.8 earthquake shook Sarangani in Davao Occidental. No casualties were reported as of 8 p.m.
Shoppers and staff at SM Lanang, evacuated the premises as a strong earthquake briefly shook Davao City on Friday afternoon, November 17. A magnitude 6.8 earthquake shook Sarangani in Davao Occidental. No casualties were reported as of 8 p.m. Ramcez Villegas/SunStar Photo

DAVAO City Mayor Sebastian Duterte, anticipating rain showers and thunderstorms, took precautionary measures early Friday morning by suspending classes at all levels of public and private schools. Simultaneously, he ordered the adoption of a work-from-home arrangement in government offices. 

However, contrary to the expected weather conditions, the city was hit by a strong earthquake instead of thunderstorms or rain showers.

On Friday, November 17, 2023, at 4:14 p.m., a magnitude 6.8 earthquake shook Sarangani in Davao Occidental. 

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) initially reported the earthquake as magnitude 7.2, but it was later downgraded to 6.8 in the updated bulletin at 5:40 p.m. 

The quake's epicenter was located 34 kilometers northwest of Sarangani Island or Sarangani town in Davao Occidental. 

According to Phivolcs, the earthquake, which originated from tectonic activity, had a depth of 72 kilometers.

Reported Intensities:

Intensity VI - Kiamba, Sarangani; Polomolok, South Cotabato; General Santos City;

Intensity V - Pantukan, Davao de Oro; Tagum City, Davao del Norte; Jose Abad Santos, Davao Occidental; Alabel, Maasim, and Malungon, Sarangani; Banga, Lake Sebu, Tampakan, and Tupi, South Cotabato; Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat;

Intensity IV-Zamboanga City; Magsaysay, Davao del Sur; Davao City; Banisilan, Kabacan, and Kidapawan City, Cotabato; Malapatan, Sarangani; Koronadal City, Norala, and Santo Niño, South Cotabato;

Bagumbayan, Kalamansig, Lebak, Lutayan, President Quirino, and Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat; Bislig City, and Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur; Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao; Cotabato City;

Intensity III - Kalilangan, Bukidnon; Laak, and Nabunturan, Davao de Oro; Aleosan, Antipas, M'lang, Magpet, and Pigkawayan, Cotabato; City of Isabela, Basilan; Jolo, Sulu;

Intensity II - Don Carlos, and San Fernando, Bukidnon; Maco, and New Bataan, Davao de Oro; Carmen, Cotabato;

Intensity I - Cabanglasan, Dangcagan, Libona, Malitbog, Manolo Fortich, Maramag, Talakag, and Valencia City, Bukidnon; Mambajao, Camiguin; Balingasag, and Villanueva, Misamis Oriental

Instrumental Intensities:

Intensity V - Matanao, Davao del Sur; Jose Abad Santos, Davao Occidental; Maasim, and Malapatan, Sarangani; Banga, Lake Sebu, Polomolok, and Tampakan, South Cotabato;

Intensity IV - Magsaysay, Davao del Sur; Davao City; Don Marcelino, Davao Occidental; Kidapawan City, Cotabato; Kiamba, Sarangani; Norala, and Tantangan, South Cotabato; Bagumbayan, Columbio; Esperanza, Isulan, Kalamansig, Lebak, and President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat;

Intensity III - Zamboanga City; Nabunturan, Davao de Oro; M'lang, Cotabato; Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat;

Intensity II - Molave, Zamboanga del Sur; Malaybalay City, Bukidnon; Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte; Balingasag, and Initao, Misamis Oriental; Cagayan de Oro; Carmen, and Pikit, Cotabato;

Intensity I - San Lorenzo, Guimaras; Talisay City, Cebu; Dapitan City, Liloy, and Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte; Talakag, Bukidnon; Tubod, Lanao del Norte; Alamada, Cotabato; Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte; Bislig City, Surigao del Sur.


No tsunami threat

Phivolcs clarified that there is no destructive tsunami threat based on available sea-level data.

"However, earthquakes of this size may generate unusual sea level disturbances that may be observed along coasts near earthquake epicenter of Davao Occidental," Phivolcs said.

Major impact

In a situation report from the Office of Civil Defense-Davao Region (OCD) as of 4:50 p.m., Davao Occidental is grappling with a power outage in the aftermath of the intense earthquake.

Reports indicate damaged ceilings at Mangahos Elementary School in Saragani and damaged walls at Brgy. Butanding in Sarangani.

The earthquake's impact reverberated across parts of the Davao Region and neighboring areas, leading to significant incidents.

At a construction site in Barangay Gravahan, New Matina, Davao City, a crane collapsed in the aftermath of the earthquake.

A crane collapsed at a construction site in Barangay Gravahan, New Matina, Davao City, following a strong earthquake that shook the city on Friday afternoon, November 17.
A crane collapsed at a construction site in Barangay Gravahan, New Matina, Davao City, following a strong earthquake that shook the city on Friday afternoon, November 17.Photo credit to Ry Llanes

According to a report from the Ecoland Police Station to the Davao City Police Office (DCPO), debris from the building fell, and the crane on a high-rise building being constructed is at risk of collapsing from an elevated position. 

Contrary to videos circulating online, DCPO confirmed no reported injuries or casualties.

Nine households, comprising 50 individuals, were evacuated and are currently sheltering at the evacuation area of Barangay Hall 76-A in Bucana.

Davao City Information Office (CIO) head Harvey James Lanticse said the Office of the City Building Official (Ocbo) has already advised the developer of the high-rise building to take down the hanging crane while the assessment is ongoing. The company was also mandated to submit an incident report.

Lanticse also said that as of 7 p.m., there are no reported confirmed casualties due to the earthquake. No other significant damages reported as of writing.

The official said the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, along with other frontline agencies, are continuously monitoring the situation.

The Talomo Police Station, along with auxiliary forces, conducted inspections on bridges, overpasses, establishments, and schools to check for cracks and damages. 

Minor cracks were visible at the PRC Testing Center Matina Pangi and Matina Crossing overpass, leading to its temporary closure.

As a strong earthquake briefly shook the city, employees in offices and establishments evacuated. Shoppers and staff inside malls also followed safety protocols.

Meanwhile, in General Santos City, some ceilings in a mall collapsed due to the quake's impact. RGL

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