A shallow but still strong quake jolted eastern Mindanao and eastern Visayas at dawn Monday, coming only two days after one of the country’s strongest quakes also occurred just nearby along the seismically active Philippine Trench.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) confirmed that the magnitude 6.8 tremor 67 northeast offshore of Cagwait town in Surigao del Sur, was a separate earthquake incident from that of the magnitude 7.4 earthquake that happened last Saturday night, also offshore of the earthquake monitoring station of Hinatuan town.
Hinatuan is 67 kilometers south of Cagwait.
Monday’s earthquake was felt strongest at Intensity 5 in Cagwait, and Intensity 4 in the nearby towns of Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental and could still be felt at a weaker Intensity 3 in Quinapondan in Eastern Samar, Dulag, Hilongos, Kananga, and Mahaplag in Leyte, Sogod in Southern Leyte. It was also felt at Intensity 2 in Argao, and Danao City in Cebu, Can-Avid in Eastern Samar, Alangalang, Albuera, Burauen, Carigara, Javier and Palo, in Leyte; the cities of Ormoc and Catbalogan in Samar and Malitbog, and San Juan in Southern Leyte.
The Phivolcs said it was not expecting major damages but warned of aftershocks. At midday Monday, it has already monitored 130 aftershocks, four of which were of the magnitude of between 5.2 and 5.7.
Saturday’s magnitude 7.4 already generated 1,726 aftershocks, many of them unfelt, but the stronger ones include a magnitude 6.1 at past midnight of Saturday, a magnitude 6.2 three hours after the main earthquake and a magnitude 6.6 at early morning Sunday.
Surigao del Norte Gov. Robert Lyndon S. Barbers issued a memorandum to all city and municipal government units under the province to exercise discretion on their power to cancel classes and work.
Vice President and Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Sara Z. Duterte also directed local education officials to implement blended learning methods in the affected areas “until all students and DepEd personnel are safe.”
She also instructed them to implement on regular basis the “mandatory unannounced earthquake and fire drills.”
“It is important for learners to know what to do during earthquake, tragedies and other calamities. Through these repeated drills, they will know the importance of presence of mind,” she said.
Pinoys urged to take quake drills ‘more seriously’
Following the series of earthquakes that rocked Mindanao in the past few months, with the magnitude 7.4 earthquake that rattled Surigao Del Sur last December 2 as the most recent and strongest, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr. on Sunday reiterated to all Filipinos the need to take seriously the earthquake drills being undertaken on a quarterly basis.
He made the statement shortly after a briefing on the Magnitude 7.4 earthquake that rattled Hinatuan, Surigao Del Sur last Saturday, even as he hailed Office of Civil Defense (OCD) officials for their prompt response and for immediately activating the national response clusters.
“We are reiterating our call for all our countrymen and LGUs [local government units] to take seriously our earthquake drills and precautions. Thank God that there was not too much damage for this quake [referring to the Surigao Del Sur quake],” Teodoro, who is also National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) chair, said.
The December 2 earthquake in Hinatuan, Surigao Del Sur has already claimed the life of a pregnant woman and injured four others.
It has also affected 529 families, totaling 2,647 individuals.
Meanwhile, power has been restored in Davao City, Davao de Oro, Davao Oriental, and Hinatuan.
Earlier, the NDRRMC was placed on “Blue Alert,” indicating that half of the agency’s manpower is on standby for heightened monitoring of these incidents.
The OCD is closely coordinating with the NDRRMC and local disaster risk reduction and management offices for the latest updates on the powerful Surigao Del Sur earthquake, which occurred weeks after the magnitude 6.8 quake that rocked Sarangani, Davao Occidental.
This earthquake in Sarangani, Davao Occidental reportedly resulted in 11 deaths, according to official data from the NDRRMC, and left 37 others injured.
It also caused damage in areas across the Davao Region, Soccsksargen, and other parts of Mindanao.
Last month, OCD Administrator Undersecretary Ariel F. Nepomuceno directed civil defense officials to enhance earthquake preparedness measures.