Village folk return home; quake damage minorAgence France-Presse, Associated Press, Inquirer Mindanao
DAVAO CITY—Thousands of villagers in eastern Philippines who fled their homes during Friday night’s 7.6-magnitude earthquake returned home Saturday, but hundreds more decided to stay in evacuation centers as the ground continued to shake, disaster officials said.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Saturday reported recording 150 aftershocks since Friday night after the earthquake struck 112 kilometers east of Guiuan town, Samar Island.
Desiderio Cabanlit, Phivolcs seismologist for Southern Mindanao, said most of the aftershocks were too faint to be felt, but at least 21 of them were quite strong, ranging from magnitude 3.6 to 6.8.
Of the 21 strong aftershocks, Cabanlit said 14 were traced off Surigao del Norte starting 9:27 p.m. on Friday up to about past 9 a.m. Saturday.
The Phivolcs’ website listed 24 moderate to strong quakes occurring off Surigao del Norte and Eastern Samar as of 11:19 a.m. Saturday.
Cabanlit said aftershocks may continue to occur several days after a major quake. He said people should always be on alert after any aftershocks, especially large ones.
The earthquake caused minor damage, according to civil defense officials.
Executive Director Benito Ramos of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Saturday said the quake caused a landslide in Cagayan de Oro City, and partially damaged the Buyayawon bridge in Mercedes, Eastern Samar, and the Barangay Casuroy bridge in San Julian, Eastern Samar.
“Only one lane of the Buyayawon bridge was passable while the San Pedro bridge in Quinapundan, Eastern Samar, was slightly tilted,” Ramos said.
He said the Layug bridge in San Julian, Eastern Samar, had been rendered impassable, and cracks on the road were reported in St. Bernard, Southern Leyte.
In this city, where Friday night’s temblor was felt at intensity 5, cracks were reported at the Abeeza Mall building in Barangay Bajada.
Death in CDO
In Cagayan de Oro City, the disaster risk reduction council confirmed the death of a 54-year-old woman whose shack at an abandoned quarry in Sitio Upper Kolambog, Barangay Lupasan, was buried in a landslide that occurred during the quake.
Disaster officials identified the dead as Emelita Ubalde, who ran out of her shack when the ground began to shake at 8:57 p.m. on Friday. Realizing that she was not carrying her 5-year-old grandson, Ubalde ran back into the shack to get the child. But soil and stones on a 6-meter mound in the quarry fell on the shack, burying it.
After the quake, neighbors worked to save Ubalde and the child, Adrian Rosales. They found the child still in bed and saved him, but it took longer to dig out Ubalde.
She was still alive when the rescuers found her. They took her to Capitol University Medical Center, where she died later.
Rescuer Wilfredo Abella said it had been raining in the area for days, loosening soil on the mound. When the earthquake struck, he said, the loosened soil above Ubalde’s house came crashing down, burying it.
Blanche Gobenchiong, chief of the regional disaster council in Caraga, said four houses in Barangay Taganaan in Surigao City collapsed when the quake struck. Two houses in Socorro, Surigao del Norte, and a boat docked in Alegria, in the same province, were damaged by the quake. No one was killed in those incidents.
Gobenchiong said the seawall in the towns of Placer and General Luna in Surigao del Norte were cracked. In San Isidro town, six pillars of the public market were damaged. Gobenchiong said the market was declared unsafe.
Gobenchiong said Siargao airport officials had requested the Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) to inspect the runway to determine its stability, although they reported no cracks.
She said some structures, including the provincial gymnasium in Surigao City, sustained damage. The Tagaanan-Libas road in Taganaan town had cracks but passable to motor vehicles, she said.
Gobenchiong said the earthquake cut power in Surigao City and Siargao. Residents in those places remained without electricity as of Saturday morning, she said.
Strong aftershocks forced fresh evacuations in coastal villages in Surigao and Davao Oriental, according to Caraga and Southern Mindanao officials.
Supt. Marcial Magistrado, spokesperson for the Southern Mindanao police, said panic-stricken people were evacuated in the towns of Baganga, Boston, Caraga, Cateel, Manay and Tarragona in Davao Oriental. But they returned home as soon as they felt all was safe again, Magistrado said.
In Surigao del Sur, provincial disaster officials said up to 6,000 people fled to higher ground after the main quake on Friday night. They began to go home at 2 a.m. after the tsunami alert was lifted.
The earthquake forced the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to cut the electricity in Leyte, Northern Samar and Eastern Samar. As a result, two shopping malls in Tacloban City, Leyte, suspended their operations Saturday.
Friday’s quake was the strongest to hit Eastern Visays in recent years, according to the Phivolcs.
Parts of Eastern Samar and Northern Samar remained without power Saturday afternoon, according to Northern Samar Gov. Paul Daza and Guiuan, Eastern Samar, Mayor Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan.
The NGCP said, however, that power transmission in the region returned to normal Saturday afternoon after damaged transmission lines had been repaired.
The Office of Civil Defense in (OCD) Bicol reported no damage in Legazpi City and Sorsogon, where the quake was felt at intensity 5.
Tsunami alert 3, which went up in the region after the quake, was lifted after midnight when waves in the sea did not rise to threatening heights, the OCD said. Reports from Philip C. Tubeza in Manila; Orlando Dinoy, Edwin Fernandez, Frinston Lim, Cai Panlilio, Ryan Rosauro and Dennis Santos, Inquirer Mindanao; Joey A. Gabieta, Jani Arnaiz, Jhunnex Napallacan, Nestor P. Burgos Jr. and Carla Gomez, Inquirer Visayas
First posted 12:39 pm | Saturday, September 1st, 2012