Mindanao folk uneasy amid strong aftershocks
DAVAO CITY — Residents in several areas in Mindanao could not rest after another strong earthquake struck Surigao del Sur on Monday, amid the continuing strong aftershocks from the main magnitude 7.4 tremor that hit off the province’s town of Hinatuan on Saturday.
The aftershocks from the magnitude 7.4 quake were also strong, reverberating in many areas across the Surigao and Agusan provinces, with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) recording close to 2,000 aftershocks as of Monday.
The series of quakes have prompted many residents in Surigao del Sur, particularly in the town of Hinatuan, to avoid staying indoors and instead move into makeshift tents set up outside their homes and nearby school grounds.
At 3:49 a.m. on Monday, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck Cagwait town in Surigao del Sur, at a depth of 30 kilometers (18 miles), some 72 km northeast of the town, the Phivolcs said.
It was felt at Intensity 5 in Cagwait; Intensity 4 in Surigao del Sur’s Tandag City and in Tarragona town of Davao Oriental; and at Intensity 3 in Iligan City, Cagayan de Oro City, and in Davao Oriental’s towns of Banaybanay and Lupon and Mati City. This was the second strong earthquake to hit Surigao del Sur and the latest in a slew of strong quakes—all concentrated in the same area—days after the magnitude 7.4 earthquake that struck off the coast of Hinatuan on Dec. 2.
From the Cagwait quake, the Phivolcs recorded 190 aftershocks, as of 1 p.m. on Monday, ranging from 1.8 in magnitude to 5.7 in magnitude.
On Monday, some local government units in Mindanao affected by the magnitude 7.4 quake called off classes while school buildings and other private and government structures underwent safety inspections.
In Davao City, Acting Mayor Melchor Quitain, who suspended classes in public schools and implemented a work-from-home scheme in all government offices, said it was done to safeguard the welfare of the public. This developed as Phivolcs recorded a total of 1,898 aftershocks as of 1 p.m. on Monday, with magnitude, ranging from 1.4 to 6.6, as monitored by the Phivolcs Bislig City station.
In Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur province, Mayor Kirk Asis suspended classes at all levels, both in public and private schools on Monday to give way for a thorough inspection of public infrastructures and to assess the damage that the city had incurred. Some cracks have been noted in the city’s Catholic church building, while part of Prince Supermarket’s facade had collapsed, following Saturday’s quake.
The Davao del Norte provincial disaster risk reduction and management office also reported the suspension of in-person classes at all levels in the cities of Panabo and Samal Island and the towns of Braulio E. Dujali, Asuncion, Carment, Santo Tomas, and New Corella to give way to building assessment.
In Mati City, Davao Oriental’s provincial capital, Mayor Michelle Rabat suspended all classes in public schools on Monday, even as the 2,697 people who fled their houses after the quake had returned home on Sunday after the Phivolcs lifted its tsunami alert.
In Agusan del Sur, residents asked the provincial and local governments to provide vehicles to fetch students in other areas of Mindanao affected by the Dec. 2 earthquake.
Police Staff Sgt. Joseph Lambo of the Hinatuan police said Sunday evening’s strong quake sent people rushing out of their homes again.
“They were panicking due to the memory of the previous night’s quake,” Lambo told Agence France-Presse (AFP). He said police were checking for any further damage or casualties.
Saturday’s quake triggered tsunami warnings across the Pacific region and sent residents along the east coast of Mindanao fleeing buildings, evacuating a hospital, and seeking higher ground.
There have been no reports of major damage to buildings or infrastructure so far, disaster officials told AFP earlier on Sunday.
A 30-year-old man died in Bislig City, also in Surigao del Sur, when a wall inside his house collapsed on top of him, said local disaster official Pacifica Pedraverde.
Some roads in the city were cracked during the earthquake and aftershocks but vehicles could still drive on them, she said.
A pregnant woman was killed in Tagum City in Davao del Norte province, the national disaster agency said, without providing details.
Two people suffered minor injuries from falling debris in Tandag City, about 100 km north of Bislig, an official said.
The Phivolcs initially warned of a “destructive tsunami” after the first quake on Saturday, expecting “life-threatening” waves, though none occurred and the warning later ended.
The recent temblors came some two weeks after a magnitude 6.7 quake hit Mindanao, killing at least nine people, shaking buildings and causing part of a shopping mall ceiling to collapse.