6.5 earthquake rattles Visayas

Not related to Zambales tremor

CEBU, Philippines — A strong earthquake measuring magnitude 6.5 rattled parts of Eastern and Central Visayas, including Cebu, yesterday afternoon, a day after a similarly powerful tremor shook parts of Metro Manila and nearby areas.

Science Undersecretary and Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) director Renato Solidum Jr., however, clarified that the two strong earthquakes were “not related.”

The agency also allayed fears of a tsunami.

Solidum explained that the source of Monday’s fatal quake in Castillejos, Zambales was a local “blind fault” or a previously unknown fault, while the tremor in Eastern Samar was triggered by a movement along the Philippine Trench.

Yesterday’s magnitude 6.5 quake occurred at 1:37 p.m., with its epicenter traced at nine kilometers northwest of San Julian, Eastern Samar.

The tremor, which some residents of Eastern Samar described as a “sudden jolt,” left cracks on some roads and bridges, as well as private and public buildings, including a church and the municipal building of San Julian.

“This was the first time I experienced this kind of earthquake. It was like a sudden jolt,” Albert Dolot, a resident of Borongan, Eastern Samar, told The STAR in a phone interview, adding he and his mother immediately evacuated to a nearby cemetery.

The occurrence of successive strong tremors is not uncommon considering the country’s geographical location, according to Solidum.

The magnitude 6.5 tremor yesterday was felt at Intensity 6 – classified by Phivolcs as very strong – in San Julian.

It was felt at Intensity 5 – strong – in Tacloban City, Leyte; Palo and Pastrana, Leyte; Catbalogan City, Samar; Gen. Mc Arthur, Salcedo and Guiuan Eastern Samar; Naval, Biliran; and Catarman, Northern Samar.

Residents of Abuyog, Hilongos, Javier, Capoocan, Julieta, Baybay, Barogo, Jaro, MacArthur, Matalum, Villaba, Leyte; San Francisco, Southern Leyte; Bislig City, Surigao Del Sur; Iloilo City; Naga City; Sorsogon City; Panganiban, Catanduanes experienced the shaking at Intensity 4, which is described as moderately strong.

It was felt at Intensity 3 in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental; Cabalian, Southern Leyte; Dimasalang, Masbate; and Butuan City and Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte; and Intensity 2 in Bago City and Bacolod City.

Instruments also reported Intensity 3 in Cebu province and Cebu City, as well as in Legazpi City; Iriga City, Camarines Sur; Ormoc City; Bogo City, Cebu; and Surigao City.

Phivolcs recorded a total of 21 aftershocks from the magnitude 6.5 quake as of 4:30 p.m. yesterday.

In a press conference yesterday, Phivolcs experts said the Visayas quake has deeper depth at 63 km and fewer aftershocks compared to the tremor that hit Luzon the other day. The Zambales quake had a depth of 12 km and was followed by nearly 500 aftershocks as of yesterday afternoon.

Disaster and military officials in Eastern Visayas are still conducting an assessment on the damage left by the 6.5 magnitude quake.

“So far, unlike of what happened in Porac, Pampanga, here at Region 8, there were only minor cracks on office buildings and other facilities, although the tremor caused a crack on the San Julian road,” Eastern Visayas Office of Civil Defense (OCD) director Henry Torres told Camp Aguinaldo reporters yesterday.

The damaged San Julian road remains passable to all types of vehicles, though.

Torres also reported the strong quake resulted to the injuries of four persons in Catarman, Northern Samar. One of the victims, he said, panicked during the quake and jumped out of the window from an office which he described “very low.”

The three others, he said, were hit by broken and falling objects.

“We are still collating all reports from all over the region. We’re getting all the reports and so far only Eastern Samar has yet to restore power,” he said, adding that at the height of the quake, there was power interruption in the entire Eastern Visayas.

In Tacloban, he said, people rushed to the streets during the tremor, describing the reaction of people as natural given the situation.

Lt. Gen. Noel Clement, who was in Tacloban yesterday for a command briefing following the killing of six soldiers by NPA rebels, said the military has not received any major damage in so far as the 6.5 magnitude quake is concerned.

“As of now, no major damages reported in the region. Only minor cracks of buildings in some municipalities and other facilities. Also minor crack of road along the bridge of Casoroy, San Julian, Eastern Samar. No reported casualty, except one minor injury who panicked,” he said.

As of yesterday afternoon, there was no power in Borongan. In Calbayog, one bridge near Gaisano Mall was reportedly damaged and impassable to traffic.

Felt in Cebu

At the Cebu Provincial Capitol, employees were ordered to rush to safer grounds following the tremor yesterday, although they resumed work immediately after.

The Capitol’s engineering office found no damages on the Capitol building courtesy of the movement.

Julius Regner, spokesperson of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), said Capitol workers applied what they have learned from the previous earthquake drills, including the “duck-cover-hold” technique.

Governor Hilario Davide III said there were no immediate reports of damages in Cebu.

“As of this time, no damage has been recorded. I ask everyone to stay alert, but remain calm as aftershocks are expected,” he said.

“We would like to ask everyone to remain cautious, and may we offer prayers for everyone’s safety, especially for Samar, and those in Luzon that was also badly hit by an earlier quake,” Vice Governor Agnes Magpale said in a separate statement.

In Cebu City, there were also no damages and injuries recorded, according to City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office Operations chief Wisley Iñigo.

Two tertiary schools suspended classes: University of San Jose-Recoletos and Cebu Normal University.

Iñigo said he ordered the deployment of the city’s Quick Response Team to check schools and universities that were still holding classes and those that were holding summer classes.

Many employees at Cebu City Hall went to safer places, with members of the City Council declaring recess for few minutes but resuming the regular session when the coast was clear.

Pacific ring of fire

The Philippines lies on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common.

According to Solidum, the Philippines has many active faults that from time to time moves and generate earthquakes.

On average, about 20 earthquakes are recorded by Phivolcs daily but only a few are felt, he said.

Magnitude refers to the measure of energy of an earthquake. Intensity, on the other hand, pertains to the measure of the severity of shaking and its attendant damage on the surface of the earth. — With Rowena D. Capistrano, Jean Marvette A. Demecillo, and Le Phyllis F. Anotojado (FREEMAN)



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