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Earthquake spurs state of calamity

A STATE of calamity was declared in Surigao City and the province of Surigao del Norte on Saturday following a 6.7-magnitude earthquake Friday night, killing six people and injuring 126 others.

Even as residents tried to recover from the deaths and damage of the worst quake to hit northeastern Mindanao since 1800, a weaker magnitude-3.7 temblor hit Cotabato City and its environs Saturday afternoon in Central Mindanao.

But there were no casualties or damage to property from the Cotabato quake which the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said was tectonic in origin, some 20 kilometers east of Cotabato City.

It was much worse in Surigao del Norte whose governor, Sol Matugas, appealed for help as the province is “still in chaos” and some residents are “still in a state of shock” after the quake with an epicenter of tectonic origin 14 km northwest of Surigao City Friday at around 10:03 p.m. 

Most of injured were hurt by falling objects at the height of the earthquake that delivered more than 100 aftershocks since Friday evening, with magnitudes ranging from 2.0 to 3.7.

Malacañang, on the other hand, appealed for prayers following the quake and warned residents of possible aftershocks. 

“Let’s be careful. Let’s be cooperative with one another and let us avoid areas where the structures are unsteady and unsure,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella told radio dzRB. 

“Let us continue to—in the spirit of bayanihan. And let us continue to be looking out for one another. These are trying times and our hearts go out to, sa mga Surigaonon. Our hearts go out to you, and our prayers also that you shall be safe from danger. We pray also that God will keep on showering his blessings and mercy upon us,” he added. 

Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said Quick Response Teams have already been activated and there are already 8,258 family food packs pre-positioned in the area.

THE DAY AFTER. While Surigao City streets show few people, the damage of the 6.7-magnitude earthquake is evident in many of its buildings. People, on the other hand, are busy stocking food and water as shown in the inset photo.
A standby fund amounting to P2,895,921.91 has also been allocated for the government’s immediate response following the quake, she added. 

Abella said that the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, led by Civil Defense Director Vicente Tomazar, has coordinated with Taguiwalo and Dr. Renato Solidum of Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology to assess the effects of the quake.

The Palace likewise instructed the Department of Public Works and Highways to immediately start clearing operations and reconstruction in quake-affected areas. 

“The President, I’m sure he wants it to work as quickly as possible in the response... and clear the debris to ensure the quick passage of government relief efforts as soon as possible,” Abella added.

Matugas sought national assistance for the repair of damaged infrastructures—destroying the airport runway, provincial capitol, bridges and buildings, including hospitals, hotels and schools which are threatening safety and affecting the flow of goods to affected areas.

The city remained without power and water supply has not resumed 17 hours after the quake.

Tremors were felt in neighboring provinces, with an Intensity VI recorded in Surigao City and  Pintuyan, Southern Leyte; Intensity V in Mandaue City, San Ricardo, Limasawa and San Francisco, Southern Leyte; Intensity IV in Hinunangan, Southern Leyte and Butuan City; Intensity III- Hibok-hibok, Camiguin, Tolosa and Tacloban, Leyte, Bislig City, Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental and Intensity II in Cagayan de Oro City, Talocogon City, Agusan del Sur, Dumaguete City, Cebu City. 

The quake damaged many buildings, including in the two-story Gaisano mall—one of the city’s largest structures—and shattered windows, sending sharp shards and heavy rubble into the street.

Terrified residents fled to higher ground after the quake, fearing that a tsunami would hit the coastal city of over 152,000 people while others spent the night in parking lots and open fields.

One bridge collapsed and two others were damaged in the quake, which also cracked the city airport’s runway, forcing flights to be diverted, the civil defense office added.

Following damages sustained by the Surigao airport, Matugas said that it will need to be closed for a month, with aid from the national government having to be flown to Butuan airport, a two-hour drive from the city. 

“The airport should be repaired immediately. The DPWH should also look into the bridges that collapsed. We have structural engineers but I’d also like national [officials] to confirm,” Matugas said.

Provincial information officer Mary Jul Espuerte said the Lipata Terminal, which connects the “roll-on, roll-off” (RORO) for both private and public utility vehicles, has also been temporarily closed.

The “Lipata Port” was not damaged, but a bridge leading to the port terminal was closed due to damage from the quake, she added.

Espuerte said the provincial government is coordinating with various government line agencies in a bid to bring back normalcy to the city and the province as soon as possible. With AFP and PNA

Topics: Surigao City , Surigao del Norte , Earthquake , State of calamity , Secretary Judy Taguiwalo , Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella
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