DAVAO CITY and Manila—A shallow but strong earthquake occurred offshore Surigao del Sur in the Pacific Ocean, rocking most of eastern Mindanao and eastern Visayas late Saturday night.
The Department of Defense (DND) reported at least one fatality and four were injured from the incident. Another 9 people are still missing.
A wall of a residence in Tagum City, Davao del Norte, crushed a woman to death, according to the Tagum City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO). The DRRMO of Tagum City linked her death to the earthquake, posting pictures of the damaged portion of her home.
The earthquake occurred at half-past-ten in the evening of Saturday 29 kilometers northeast of the earthquake monitor in the town on Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, a second-class municipality populated by close to 44,000 people. It was tectonic in origin and has a depth of 26 kilometers. Initial report from the US Geological Survey measured it at magnitude 7.7 and the Philippine Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) scaled it down to magnitude 6.9.
Phivolcs Director Teresito C. Bacolcol said the intensity-7 earthquake is classified as destructive.
By Sunday morning, the Phivolcs scaled up the magnitude of the quake to 7.4, making it one of the strongest to hit the country.
THE Phivolcs has been monitoring the aftershocks to ensure the safety of those in the affected areas, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said in his post on X (formerly Twitter).
The temblor was felt at intensity 7 in the Surigao del Sur capital of Tandag and could be felt as far as Borongan, Eastern Samar and Palo in Leyte in the Visayas, authorities said.
A tsunami alert was issued immediately warning of waves that could reach at least one meter high. The highest registered wave was 0.64 meters or about two feet that hit the Mawes Island in HInatuan, authorities said.
Some 300 residents along the coastline of Mati City, Davao Oriental, were also evacuated in the designated evacuation centers in Golden Valley Provincial Capitol and Matiao National High School after the tsunami warning was raised, the Mati City DRRMO said. The warning was lifted by 3:00 a.m. last Sunday even as several aftershocks were still occurring, the strongest of which was measured at magnitude 6.2 at 1:40 a.m. that day, the Mati City DRRMO said.
AT a news conference on Sunday morning, Bacolcol said confirmed tsunami waves were reported in Bislig City.
He said there were also reports of ceiling collapse in a shopping mall in Butuan City.
“We are not expecting any more big tsunamis,” Bacolcol said, explaining that after the 7.4 magnitude earthquake’s first wave, the worst of the tsunamis they expect to be generated is over.
He said the Phivolcs expert determined that the earthquake was caused by the earth’s movement at the Philippine trench.
This is not the first time a strong earthquake originated from the Philippine trench occurred. In 1921, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake caused by the movement of the earth’s crust occurred. Another strong earthquake was recorded in 1952 with a magnitude of 7.7.
“All these produce tsunamis coming from the Philippine Trench.”
The Philippine Trench, also called the Philippine Deep, Mindanao Trench and the Mindanao Deep, is a submarine trench to the east of the Philippines.
“This is an active trench,” Bacolcol said.
The trench is located in the Philippine Sea of the western North Pacific Ocean. It has a length of approximately 1,320 kilometers and a width of about 30 km from Luzon trending southeast to the northern Maluku Islands of Halmashera in Indonesia. At its deepest point, the trench reaches 10,540 meters (34,580 ft or 5,760 fathoms).
ACCORDING to Bacolcol, the Philippine trench is capable of generating or triggering a magnitude 8.2 earthquake.
On November 17, a magnitude 6.8 quake occurred undersea off Sarangani Island, Davao de Oro. In February, a magnitude 6 occurred in Compostela, Davao de Oro. In September 2020, a magnitude 6.4 occurred in Don Marcelino, Davao Occidental.
In succession in the last half of October 2019, three powerful earthquakes of upwards magnitude 6 occurred in Tulunan, North Cotabato. In December of that year, another magnitude 6.9 rocked Padada, Davao del Sur.
Marcos has said in his post on X that the distribution of government aid in areas jolted by the earthquake is ongoing.
The President said that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) are coordinating with local government units (LGUs).
He urged the public to help in the ongoing government efforts in helping the quake-hit communities.
“In these challenging times, let us unite as a nation. Together, we will overcome the obstacles posed by this disaster and emerge stronger,” the President said.
Image credits: AP/Ivy Marie Mangadlao