An earthquake that struck in Quezon Province, east of the capital Manila, on Friday set buildings swaying and sent scores into the streets, but authorities said they did not expect any damage.
The 5.3-magnitude jolt hit offshore near sparsely populated Polillo Island, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) from Manila, according to the US Geological Survey.
Buildings in the capital were briefly evacuated and trains halted for at least an hour while crews looked for any damage as several smaller aftershocks rumbled through the ground.
“This is a moderate-sized earthquake and we don’t expect damage so far based on the intensity reports that we received,” Renato Solidum, director of the nation’s seismology institute, told CNN Philippines.
Though there did not appear to be any destruction, the intense shaking at the epicenter rattled locals.
“Everyone rushed out of the buildings. We were terrified,” Rezil Golbin, a civilian employee at the police office on Polillo Island told Agence-France Presse.
“Even the prisoners at the jail cell here were shouting, ‘Get us out of here!’” she added.
The temblor led to early work suspensions in Metro Manila and even the Senate, where three Bureau of Corrections officials being investigated over alleged corruption were forced to remain inside its detention facility while employees rushed out of the building.
Senate security officials gave assurances the three, who were visited by relatives Friday, would be escorted out of their detention facility—the basement of the six-story Senate building—should the need arise.
A portion of the steel parking area remained open so that the three BuCor officials can easily be evacuated in case of any eventuality, the official said.
Those who remained holed in the Senate were CTSO2 Ramoncito Roque, BuCor Documents and Record Section chief; New Bilibid Prison Hospital Medical Officer Ursicio Cenas; and BuCor Legal Division chief Frederic Anthony Santos.
Operatives from the Bureau of Fire Protection led by Inspector Glen Celestial rushed to the Senate and inspected the whole building.
The earthquake, with different intensities in different areas, occurred at 4:28 Friday afternoon northeast of the town of Burdeos, on Polillo Island, at a depth of 10 kilometers, some 112 kilometers east of Manila.
Many buildings in the metropolis, like Malacañang, the Department of Justice, the University of the Philippines in Diliman, the Ateneo de Manila University and the University of Santos Tomas, were evacuated.
Also evacuated for minutes were high-rise structures in Makati’s Central Business District, like the seven-story Universal RE building, where the Manila Standard editorial office is.
“We have not received any calls for help or reports of emergency incidents related to the quake,” Tricia Cervantes, of the rescue office in Manila’s Makati district, told AFP.
Some schools suspended work and classes up to Saturday following the earth tremor, caused by the movement of the earth’s crust.
The schools were: Letran; PUP NCR branches and campuses; FEATI; PWU Taft Avenue and PWU JASMS Indiana campuses; UST Senior High School.
The Philippines is in the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from quake-prone Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin. With AFP