Surigao del Sur under calamity state due to huge quake damage
TANDAG CITY—The entire province of Surigao del Sur has been placed under a state of calamity due to the massive impact of the magnitude 7.4 earthquake that struck off Hinatuan town on Saturday night, as well as the continuing aftershocks that still rattle residents.
The calamity declaration was contained in Sangguniang Panlalawigan Resolution No. 1410-23 approved on Tuesday, upon the recommendation of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council headed by Gov. Alexander Pimentel.
The provincial legislature, presided by Vice Gov. Manuel Alameda Sr., noted that the quake affected 116,217 families or 480,414 individuals, in 237 villages across the province, which is more than 30 percent of the local population.
Apart from the magnitude 7.4 temblor, which was felt at Intensity 7 in the capital Tandag City, and Intensity 6 in most other localities, the province was also shaken by the magnitude 6.8 quake that struck off Cagwait town on Monday.
As of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) had recorded 2,717 aftershocks from the Hinatuan earthquake, of which 31 were felt and with strength of up to magnitude 6.6.
The Cagwait quake had 619 aftershocks as of Tuesday, although only four were felt, with strength of up to magnitude 5.7.
As of Tuesday, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said 20,977 families were still staying in evacuation centers after they were displaced from their homes.
It also counted a total of 834 houses destroyed and 1,141 damaged. Damage to public infrastructure such as government buildings, schools and river control facilities was estimated at P110 million.
The Department of Education (DepEd) initially counted 13 schools with 66 classrooms in the province that were destroyed by the quake.
On Wednesday, Pimentel ordered the cancellation of scheduled Christmas parties of barangay, municipal, city, and provincial governments, saying that the intended budgets for these should be donated to earthquake victims. He encouraged national government agencies and private companies to do the same.
Pimentel also extended the suspension of classes in all levels in both private and public schools until the order is lifted, urging DepEd to institute alternative modes of delivering class instruction.
He ordered another round of structural integrity assessments on all school buildings on account of the “recurring tremors.”
In Hinatuan town, Mayor Shem Garay said that apart from the main earthquake on Saturday, they were still confronted by “recurring aftershocks,” hence his request for schools to shift to alternative modes of holding classes to ensure learning continuity.
Personnel of the Department of Public Works and Highways had cordoned off the municipal government’s legislative building and another structure adjacent to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration’s building hosting its Doppler radar station. The state weather bureau’s building had severe cracks due to Saturday’s quake.
For now, the Hinatuan local government is closing off to tourists as it suspended the operation of six resorts “due to the persistence of aftershocks.” The town’s major tourist draw is the Enchanted River.