Magnitude 7 hits Abra; 5 killed, widespread damage reported
The magnitude 7 earthquake that rocked northern Luzon left five people dead, caused landslides that rendered 14 national roads impassable and destroyed the antique bell towers of Bantay and Laoag and the old church in Sarat.
In a briefing Wednesday, Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said the quake, with its epicenter in Abra province, killed two people in Benguet, one in Abra and another in Mountain Province.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council spokesman Mark Timbal said they are still determining the details of the fifth fatality.
Some 218 towns in 15 provinces in Regions 1, 2 and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) were affected by the earthquake, which could be felt in Metro Manila.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the quake struck Abra at 8:43 a.m.
Provincial officials reported several houses and buildings were damaged in Bangued, the capital city, and in Lagangilang town.
The quake, of tectonic origin, had a depth of 17 kilometers, and its epicenter was located 2 kilometers east of Lagangilang.
Intensity 7 was felt in Abra’s Bucloc and Manabo, and intensity 6 was felt in Ilocos Sur’s Vigan City, Sinait, Bantay and San Esteban; Pangasinan’s Laoac, and Baguio City.
Intensity 5 was felt in Ilocos Sur’s Magsingal and San Juan; Pangasinan’s Alaminos City and Labrador; Nueva Vizcaya’s Bambang; Pampanga’s Mexico; Tarlac’s Concepcion and Tarlac City, and Metro Manila’s Manila and Malabon City.
Intensity 4 was also felt in Marikina City, Quezon City, Pasig City and Valenzuela City in Metro Manila; Kalinga’s Tabuk City; Pangasinan’s Bautista and Malasiqui; Nueva Vizcaya’s Bayombong and Diadi; Bulacan’s Guiguinto, Obando and San Rafael, and Rizal’s San Mateo.
Pangasinan’s Bolinao; Bulacan’s Bulakan, and Rizal’s Tanay felt intensity 3, while Cavite’s General Trias City and Laguna’s Santa Rosa City felt intensity 2.
Phivolcs director Renato Solidum said the tremor was caused by a major earthquake generator, the Abra River fault.
“If there’s a Big One in Metro Manila, the Big One in Abra is the Abra River fault. Every place has a Big One,” he told a news conference, apparently referring to fault lines.
The Abra River fault last moved in 1868, triggering a magnitude 4 quake, he said.
“It will take hundreds of years before the fault will release’ another big quake,” he added.
However, he warned that big aftershocks may follow in the next two to three days “until their magnitude becomes lesser and lesser as weeks pass by.”
A total of 227 aftershocks have already been recorded as a result of the magnitude 7 earthquake.
Five of these aftershocks were felt, while 12 were plotted or located, Phivolcs said.
“Aftershocks may last for months, but over time, the number would decrease,” Solidum said.
“That is just normal. We are advising the public to go out of their house or building where they are in because big aftershocks may take place that could destroy the structure,” he said.
He said people living in the affected areas should inspect their houses for cracks or damage before going back inside.
Solidum said structures in Ilocos Sur’s Vigan City suffered serious damage because the city is on a floodplain, a generally flat area of land next to a river or stream.
“It is sandy and liquefaction prone,” he said.
Senator Imee Marcos said the quake destroyed the antique bell towers of Bantay and Laoag and the old church in Sarat, all in her bailiwick, Ilocos Norte.
In a Zoom interview, Marcos said she was briefed by her son, Gov. Matthew Marcos Manotoc.
The senator, who had served before as Ilocos Norte governor, said several heritage houses were destroyed.
She urged the public to be wary of falling debris from buildings and old houses, and urged the authorities to evacuate residents living in coastal areas and landslide-prone areas.
Several roads leading to Kalinga, Ilocos Norte and Cagayan, and Baguio are impassable, she said.
“We saw the landslide in Kenon, in Pagudpud going to Cagayan and Kalinga-Abra Road.”
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said a total of 14 national roads, particularly in the Cordillera and Ilocos regions, were impassable in the aftermath of the magnitude 7 earthquake.
The DPWH said it has deployed quick response teams to inspect the safety of national roads and bridges, as well as other public infrastructure.
Secretary Manuel Bonoan said he has instructed the DPWH regional and district engineering offices in the area to immediately check public infrastructure for any damage brought about by the quake that could endanger motorists and the general public.
“Our teams of engineers are conducting an assessment to evaluate the structural integrity and damage caused by the earthquake as we simultaneously clear debris along national roads and bridges,” he said in a statement.
As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, the roads in Abra that were reported closed were the Abra-Kalinga Road K0437+250 to K0475+000, Intermittent Sections and at K0474+000 due to soil collapse; Abra-Ilocos Norte Road, K0430+000 section and Calaba Bridge due to settlement of approach; and Abra-Cervantes Road, at Biweng Bridge due to a damaged approach.
Also closed to traffic are Kennon Road, Benguet; Benguet-Nueva Vizcaya Road K0303+100, Bobok Bisal, Bokod due to soil collapse and K0302+700, Poblacion, Bokod due to rock fall in Benguet; and the Baguio-Itogon Road, Itogon Bridge, and K0267+519.
Also closed were the Congressman Andres Acop Cosalan Road, K0318+500, Sitio, Bugao, Barangay Adaoay, Kabayan, Benguet due to soil collapse; the Gov. Bado Dangwa National Road K0297+200, K0297+800, K0298+400 sections in Beling-belis, Kapangan and K0313+150 section in Poblacion, Kibungan, Benguet due to slope collapse; Kalinga-Abra Road K0468+860 and K0467+400 in Ableg, Pail, Kalinga, and K0497+000 onwards Abra, Pantikian to Balblasang,
Balbalan and Lubuagan-Batong Buhay Road in Upper Kalinga; Banaue-Hungduan-Benguet Boundary Road, K0389+700, Wangwang, Tinoc in Ifugao; and various sections of the Baguio-Bontoc Road, Mt. Province-Cagayan via Tabuk-Enrile Road, Mt. Province-Ilocos Sur Road via Kayan Mt. Province-Ilocos Sur Road via Tue, all in Mountain Province.
On the other hand, seven road sections in the two regions have limited access – Asin Road, K0305+820, Asin, Baguio City; Palispis Marcos Highway, K0273+780, Poblacion, Tuba, Benguet; Baguio-Bontoc Road, Balili Bridge, Benguet; and Benguet-Nueva Vizcaya K0254+300, Sitio Lamut, Beckel, La Trinidad, Benguet.
Other roads that have limited access due to the earthquake are the Congressman Andres Acop Cosalan Road K0318+800, Sitio, Bugao, Barangay Adaoay, Kabayan, Benguet; Baguio-Bauang Road, K0296+600 LS, Tadiangan, Tuba, Benguet; and Calungbuyan Bridge, Santa Rancho, Santa, Ilocos Sur.
Aside from these roads, houses, old buildings, and churches in Ilocos were also damaged by the tremor.
In a Palace briefing, Abalos said 173 private and government buildings in the CAR were damaged by the earthquake.
“For the damaged buildings, 33 were in Baguio, 59 were in Abra, two were in Apayao, 62 were in Benguet, seven were in Kalinga and 10 were in the Mountain Province,” he said in Filipino. “That’s a total of 173. And of course there were many landslides reported, with Abra having the most number at 31, he told President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Abalos said the earthquake shook 15 provinces, 15 cities, 280 municipalities and 6,756 barangays in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley and CAR.
Abalos said the police and members of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) were deployed to conduct relief operations in the areas severely affected by the earthquake.
However, the NDRRMC said it is still verifying reports of casualties.
Department of National Defense officer-in-charge, Undersecretary Jose Faustino, reconvened the NDRRMC for another emergency meeting on the updates and actions in the aftermath of the earthquake.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court announced the suspension of work in some courts following the earthquake.
In a statement, the high court said work in the branches and offices of the regional trial court (RTC) of Malabon City was suspended starting 12 noon.
Also suspended due to the earthquake was work in the RTC and Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) of Lingayen, Pangasinan effective 2 p.m., the MTCC Branch 1 and 2 in San Fernando, La Union as of 10:30 a.m., and the entire Hall of Justice of Urdaneta City, Pangasinan effective 1 p.m.
Both the Department of Education (DepEd) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) assured the public Wednesday that they are closely monitoring the situation of schools in affected areas following the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Abra.
During the press briefing at the DepEd Central Office, Education spokesperson Michael Poa said they were validating on-the-ground reports from the regional offices, which reported cracks in some schools in Abra and Vigan.
Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla said his department was coordinating with local officials and electric cooperatives to assess the impact of the quake on power facilities.
The Baang and Pegeo substations of Mt. Province Electric Cooperative (MOPRECO) were reportedly affected.
The MOPRECO coverage areas were affected, including parts of Tinglayan, Kalinga and Cervantes, and Quirino, Ilocos Sur.
Six substations of La Union Electric Cooperative are already up, but two substations remained without power.
Central Pangasinan Electric Cooperative (CENPELCO) is conducting ongoing repair or replacement of the damaged 69kv line in Brgy. Taloy, Malasiqui, due to the earthquake.
Affected Areas are as follows: Malasiqui, Bayambang, Basista and Bautista in Central Pangasinan.
DOE said all power generation plants are under normal operation except for the hydroelectric plants of Hedcor, Inc. in Mountain Province.
The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines reported the restoration work was ongoing for the remaining Bacnotan-Bulala 69kV line in La Union, which tripped at 8:44 a.m. Wednesday.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said no damage was found at the airports in Abra following a magnitude 7 earthquake in the province on Wednesday.
But in Baguio Airport, some minor cracks in some of its facilities were found, the agency said.
“Northern Luzon airports in CAAP Area 1 (Laoag, Vigan, Lingayen, Baguio, Rosales, and San Fernando Airports) and Area 2 (Tuguegarao, Cauayan, Palanan, Bagabag, Basco, and Itbayat Airports) reported no damage and have resumed passenger terminal and boarding operations,” the CAAP said.
The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said no damage was found at the four terminals of Ninoy Aquino International Airport following a tremor on Wednesday.
MIAA chief information officer Connie Bungag said emergency response and safety teams conducted an immediate inspection at the airport facilities after the quake.
“The two runways of NAIA were declared safe for flight operations after no damage was seen on the pavements. Inspection of the four NAIA Terminals likewise yielded good results as no damage was also noted,” she said.