Davao Sur earthquake toll: 11 dead, 195 hurt

The number of persons killed in the magnitude 6.9 earthquake that thumped Matanao, Davao del Sur on Sunday is now at 11, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Thursday.

In its 6 a.m. update, the NDRRMC said 195 others were injured while one was missing.

The report, signed and released by NDRRMC executive director Ricardo Jalad, said the dead and injured were from Davao Region and Soccsksargen.

The number of affected families is placed at 29,592 which is equivalent to 121,221 persons residing in 105 barangays in Davao Region.

Of these, a total 3,076 families or 14,993 persons are taking temporary shelter in 24 evacuation centers while 4,379 families or 18,051 individuals are being aided outside.

Also, 290 schools were partially damaged by the earthquake in Davao Region and Soccsksargen. 

In Digos City, Science and Technology Undersecretary Renato Solidum had shot down speculations that the strong earthquakes that have hit North Cotabato and Davao del Sur were possibly human-induced.

Although he did not refer to any human activity, social media websites, particularly Facebook, had been rife with suspicions that the quakes, including the magnitude 6.9 tremor that hit Padada town on Dec. 15 were possibly man-made.

Social media users have been sharing links to online articles about the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (H.A.A.R.P), which is an ionospheric research program jointly funded by various US agencies and was started in 1993.

Some articles, mainly from obscure websites, claimed that the H.A.A.R.P can generate strong earthquakes that could devastate areas the US would target.

However, Solidum, also the officer in charge of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, said during an interview with reporters at the office of Mayor Josef Cagas that there was no known man-made activity that can generate such powerful quakes as the ones that hit the province and nearby North Cotabato.

“Why? The origins of the quakes are three kilometers below ground or more. There is no human activity that can reach that deep,” he added. 

Solidum also said that contrary to other suspicions, the quakes had nothing to do with Mt. Apo, which straddles the two provinces.

“Those are not related to Mt. Apo. Can it affect Mt. Apo and trigger an explosion? Well, Mt. Apo is a potentially active volcano but if the quakes had affected it, we would have seen the signs already because of the consecutive strong tremors. These include volcanic quakes, the heated ground near the volcano, wilted vegetation, magma, and even smoke. There is none of these,” he said in Filipino.

He said Phivolcs should be the first one to know if Mt. Apo became restive.

“We have sensors around Mt. Apo,” he added.

Solidum said by all indications, the October quakes, and Sunday’s tremor were caused by several active fault lines traversing areas of North Cotabato and Davao del Sur.

He made assurances that Phivolcs was continuing its monitoring of the faults by installing seismic stations in various areas of the two provinces. 

Meanwhile, environmentalist group Ecowaste Coalition appealed to the people, especially government officials, to help victims of devastating storm surge and flooding in Luzon and the Visayas and the quakes in Mindanao, instead of spending money for firecrackers and fireworks this holiday season.

¨Local government units (LGUs), corporations, households and ordinary individuals can help the victims by not igniting firecrackers and fireworks,¨the group said in a statement.

The money saved from not buying and bursting firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices can be channeled to government institutions, private foundations, and church, media and civic groups who are working on the ground to assist the disaster victims, it added.

“We appeal to all LGUs, companies and our fellow Filipinos to donate funds earmarked for firecrackers and fireworks to ongoing relief and reconstruction efforts in disaster-stricken communities,” said Ecowaste chemical safety campaigner Thony Dizon.

“The money saved from not detonating dangerous and polluting firecrackers and fireworks can be used to buy Noche Buena or Media Noche food packs, housing materials and farm implements for households affected by the recent flooding, storm surge and earthquake incidents that hit various parts of the country,” he said.  

“Such a compassionate gesture will offer a glimmer of hope for families whose lives were touched by these tragic disasters,” he added.

In addition, reduced consumption of firecrackers and fireworks will translate to a cleaner, healthier and safer celebration of the holidays, especially on New Year’s eve, the group asserted.

The group also encouraged public officials not to spend taxpayers’ money for “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” tarpaulins.  

“These promotional materials, which often contain cadmium, lead and other toxic chemicals, are totally unnecessary and only add to street clutter and plastic waste,” it said.

The group further requested the public to keep holiday parties simple and to put aside the funds saved for lavish and wasteful parties to help the poor and the needy among us. With PNA

Topics: National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council , earthquake , Ricardo Jalad , Josef Cagas
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