Magnitude 6.9 quake shakes Surigao del Sur; Phivolcs issues tsunami alert
A powerful earthquake of magnitude of 6.9 (earlier reported as 7.5) struck the region near Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur at 10:37 p.m. Saturday, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
Earlier, the United States Geological Survey reported the magnitude to be 7.6, according to an Associated Press report.
Phivolcs also issued a tsunami warning after the tremor.
“Based on the local tsunami scenario database, it is expected to experience wave heights of more than one meter above the normal tides and may be higher on enclosed bays and straits. Destructive tsunami is expected with life-threatening wave heights,” Phivolcs said.
“It is forecasted that the first tsunami waves will arrive between 10:37 PM to 11:59 PM, 02 Dec 2023 (PST). These waves may continue for hours,” it added.
Evacuation in Japan
The earthquake triggered evacuation orders for some areas in the southwestern Japanese coasts because of warnings of tsunami waves of a meter (3 feet) or more.
The US Tsunami Warning System said there could be waves of up to 3 meters above the tide level along some Philippine coasts.
“Boats already at sea during this period should stay offshore in deep waters until further advised,” Phivolcs said, asking people living near the coast of Surigao Del Sur and Davao Oriental provinces to “immediately evacuate” or “move farther inland.”
The Japanese broadcaster NHK said tsunami waves of up to a meter were expected to reach Japan’s southwestern coast around 30 minutes later — by 1:30 a.m. on Sunday (1630 GMT on Saturday | 0030 PH time on Sunday)
Phivolcs said it did expect significant damage from the tremor itself, but warned of aftershocks.
Butuan residents jumped out of their beds and ran out of their houses here on Saturday night as the earth shook. Others who were still awake and just lingering about also rushed into the streets.
Montilla Boulevard and JC Aquino Avenue, Butuan City’s main thoroughfare, were filled with people who had yet to shake off their fear of the earthquake.
The shaking there lasted over 30 seconds.
In Surigao City, a resident told the Inquirer that the merchandise in their store fell to the ground amid the shaking.
No damage has so far been reported, but Phivolcs said aftershocks could occur.
Power was cut off throughout Agusan del Sur province following the earthquake.
According to an advisory from the Agusan del Sur Electric Cooperative (Aselco), the brownout occurred at the height of the tremor.
Aselco added that its technicians were already deployed to assess its power lines and facilities to check whether these were affected by the strong temblor.
Aselco further said that they are awaiting the advice of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines as power transmission from it was also lost.
Raymark Gentallan, local police chief of the coastal town of Hinatuan near the earthquake’s epicenter, said power has been knocked out since the quake struck, but disaster response teams have not monitored any casualties or damage yet.
The power went off in parts of Butuan City and was not yet restored as of 11 p.m.
Many Butuan residents suffered hyperventilation, and some of them had to be rushed to hospitals.
Also felt in the Visayas
Tremors were also felt in several parts of the Visayas and Mindanao, with netizens in Cebu reported to have felt the ground shaking, according to the Cebu Daily News.
The epicenter was located at 42 kilometers north-northeast of Hinatuan.
Phivolcs reported that the quake had a shallow depth of focus at 8 kilometers and was of tectonic origin.
Significant shaking was felt in several areas, with Intensity V reported in the City of Bislig, Surigao Del Sur, and the City of Cabadbaran, Agusan Del Norte.
The Philippines sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire where continental plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.