A magnitude 6.5 earthquake jolted San Julian, Eastern Samar Tuesday afternoon, stronger than the magnitude 6.1 quake that wrought significant damage Monday in Luzon. This prompted the government’s chief seismologist to warn of the possibility of a “heavyweight” magnitude 7.2 temblor in Metro Manila due the 100-kilometer West Valley Fault that stretches from Bulacan to Laguna.
A magnitude 4.7 tectonic earthquake also rocked the waters of Batangas near Calatagan Monday night. The temblor was not connected to the Zambales quake as Batangas has a separate fault line.
The quake in San Julian was likewise felt in Catanduanes, Masbate, Sorsogon, and Albay in Luzon and Surigao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley and Surigao del Norte in Mindanao.
The Central Visayas quake also caused power interruptions in Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, and Calbayog City.
“The earthquake was so strong that it shook all the buildings,” Eastern Samar provincial tourism officer Franklin Robedizo said.
“No one started crying, but of course some panicked because it was really strong,” said Rey Estrobo, a supervisor at a hotel in Borongan town, near the epicenter. “We are still getting hit with aftershocks, even as we speak.”
According to Renato Solidum, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, aftershocks can be expected “several days after” the Eastern Samar earthquake.
As of Tuesday, at least 491 aftershocks have been recorded following Monday’s 6.1 earthquake that had its epicenter northeast of Castillejos, Zambales.
Solidum said the government is preparing for the possibility of an even stronger 7.2 earthquake, noting that the West Valley Fault moves every 400 to 600 years.
“I liken our preparedness to boxing. If our opponent is a heavyweight, then our preparedness should be for a heavyweight or a superweight. We cannot afford to be preparing for just a lightweight,” he said in a radio interview.
“What happened on Monday is only a lightweight or middleweight. Had we been prepared for a bigger one, we should not have had any problem on Monday…[But] earthquake preparedness does not happen overnight. We still need to do a lot of convincing,” Solidum added.
Malacañang on Tuesday assured the public the government remains on top of the situation following the separate earthquake incidents.
“Concerned disaster agencies of the government, including those involved in the provision of basic and health services, are now working round the clock to ensure government service delivery remains unhampered,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
“First responders from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Office of Civil Defense, Philippine National Police, and affected local government units, as well as other related agencies, are cooperating and coordinating on the ground to look after the needs of our citizens. The Departments of Transportation and Energy are also on full alert to respectively address issues on disruption of transportation services and power supply interruptions.”
Panelo appealed to the public to remain calm but vigilant and urged them to refrain from spreading disinformation in social media that may cause undue alarm, panic, and stress to many people.
“We call on all local government executives to be on standby. Let us set aside politics for the time being and let the true spirit of unity, cooperation, and humanitarianism prevail,” he added. With AFP and PNA