7.2 temblor rocks Bohol, Cebu; 93 die
A 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked the provinces of Bohol and Cebu on Tuesday, which state seismologist Renato Solidum described as “32 times as strong as the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in World War II.”
The earthquake, which occurred at 8:12 a.m., left 93 dead, 77 in Bohol alone, toppled centuries-old churches, buildings and other structures, triggered landslides, suspended sea and air travel, and sent thousands of people scampering for safety for fear of aftershocks.
What the earthquake did. The damage to the roof and structure of the church in San Pedro in Loboc, Bohol. AFP
“The magnitude 7.2 earthquake is within the category of a major earthquake. A magnitude 7 earthquake has an energy equivalent to around 32 Hiroshima atomic bombs,” said Solidum, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology or Phivolcs).
He added that the Bohol quake “was even stronger than the one that hit Haiti in January, 2010, which was measured at 7.0.
The Haiti tremor claimed over 300,000 lives, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
The epicenter of the earthquake was traced two kilometers south of Carmen, Bohol which lasted 30 to 45 seconds.
Solidum said the quake, which was tectonic in nature, has a depth of 33 kilometers.
As this developed, President Benigno Aquino III held a closed-door conference with NDRMMC officials in Camp Aguinaldo to assess and draw up plans to immediately provide assistance to affected areas in Central Visayas.
“Well, the first instruction was to make sure that there were no isolated areas. That’s why it took me this long (because), I wanted them to gather all of their necessary data na meron bang na-isolate, meron bang in danger ‘nung tinatawag na liquefaction, the usual questions na posible ang tsunami dito, kailan bubuksan ‘yung ports diyan…” Aquino said after emerging from the meeting.
He said the main agenda of the meeting was the inventory on the compliance of the building code of 2010 which specifically calls for meeting the required building construction specification that could withstand a 7.2 earthquake.
Meanwhile, the provincial boards of both Bohol and Cebu placed their provinces under a state of calamity.
Aside from Bohol and Cebu, several provinces and cities in Visayas and Mindanao were hit by earthquakes of varying intensities.
Iloio City, La Carlota City, Cebu were hit by an Intensity 4 earthquake; Banisilan, North Cotabato, Canlaon City, Cotabato City, La Castellana, Negros Oriental, Zamboanga City (Intensity 3); Carascal, Surigao del Sur, Nabas, Aklan, Tacurong City (Intensity 2) and Lezo, Aklan (Intensity 1).
The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, meanwhile, has enumerated the damaged buildings in Bohol.
The list includes the Tagbilaran City Port, Pasil Fish Port, Trinidad Bohol Municiapl Building, houses in Barrage Anonang, Inabanga and Barrage Loreto, Cortes in Bohol.
The DSWD building in Bohol partially collapsed while the Cebu City Hall was also partially damaged.
Ayala Center Cebu and Gaisano Country Mall were also damaged while Novo Department Store and Cindy’s food chain at Maasin City Southern Leyte also sustained minor cracks. The Administration office of the Iloilo Airport sustained slight damages.
The ruined Basilica of the Holy Child in Cebu City; Cebuanos gather on the street next to a damaged buildings in Cebu City; rescuers come to the aid of a wounded woman also in Cebu City; the area where the earthquake struck. AFP
At least six bridges in Bohol were believed to have sustained cracks after the quake and were ordered closed to traffic.
DPWH Usec Romeo Momo identified the brides as the Clarin, Abatan and Bacong bridges in Cortes, Bohol; Loay Bridge, Expansion Joint of Mactan and the provincial bridge in Montana and the Interior Road.
Power outages also hit Bohol, Mandaue City, Cebu, Iloilo, Iloilo City, Cadiz City, Negros Occidental and some areas in Region XI, including Davao City.
In Mandaue City in Cebu, a portion of a public market collapsed and fell on a group of marketgoers.
The injured were rushed to the Mandaue District Hospital where the patients also had to be evacuated outside for safety.
In Barangay San Isidro, Talisay City, also in Cebu, a factory building collapsed, killing an employee. Rescue efforts are still ongoing to save two more persons trapped under the debris.
Four persons were also injured from the debris of a falling billboard in Bgy. Pasil, Cebu City.
Solidum, meanwhile, called for the immediate inspection of structures in Bohol and Cebu and other areas affected by the quake, as he warned that these could collapse amid the continuing aftershocks.
He added that the Phivolcs had monitored 110 aftershocks as of 11 a.m. Tuesday with the strongest at magnitude 4.5 around 9:55 a.m.
”The aftershocks will continue in the coming days but will diminish in number over time,” he said.
Tuesday’s earthquake, according to Solidum, was also the strongest to hit Bohol in 23 years, the second having a 6.8 magnitude last February 1990, Solidum said.
Solidum said the 1990 earthquake damaged churches, roads and bridges in Bohol. It also triggered a tsunami since the earthquake occurred offshore, he added.
“But the earthquake this morning occurred inland so there was no possibility of a wave,” he noted.
Solidum said the quake rocked the East Bohol fault found on the southeast side of Carmen.
He added that the fault also moved ‘vertically,’ he added.
“The quake was tracked as far as northeast of the Bicol region like Sorsogon and also Masbate, as far as south as Davao city and also Zambaonga,” Solidum added.
In other developments, Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the roll-on, roll-off (RORO) port in Tagbilaran City was “heavily damaged”
He said there were reports of cracks on the runway of the Cebu City Airport and flights are temporarily suspended.
Abaya added the flights were diverted to the Mactan Airport.
The Tagbilaran Airport was also temporarily closed because of crack on the runway and in the ceiling of the main building.
But at 10:35 a.m., the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines’ CAAP’s Operation Rescue Coordinating Center said that the airport has been opened for commercial operations after ground crew cleared the falling debris that caused the closure of the terminal.
Over at the Cebu ports, more than
1,500 passengers after the Coast Guard prevented 12 vessels from sailing following the quake.
“We suspended the sea travel because of the strong earthquake and while there are still aftershocks,” said Coast Guard - Central Visayas district commander William Melad.
He said that Coast Guard commandant Rodolfo Isorena also raised alert in the Coast Guard offices in Iloilo, Bohol and other areas affected by the quake that struck around 8:15 am.
Three of the country’s leading mobile phone operator, meanwhile, said that services in Bohol and Cebu remain operational despite the damage on some cell sites and network facilities caused by the earthquake.
In separate statements, Sun Cellular said that their service had been affected in the two provinces due to the damage to its transmission facilities, but added that Smart and Sun engineers are working to normalize services shortly.
In a separate statement, Globe Telecom said its network in the Visayas region did not sustain any significant damage from the earthquake based on the initial assessment made by its local network personnel. With Francisco Tuyay, Joel Zurbano, Eric Apolonio, AFP, PNA, Lailany P. Gomez and Rio N. Araja.