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Thursday, February 22, 2024

2 dead as magnitude 7.4 quake hits Mindanao

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At least two people were killed and several were injured after a magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur late Saturday and triggered tsunami warnings that were later lifted.

The powerful quake struck off the coast of Mindanao at a depth of 32 kilometres and was followed by four major aftershocks of magnitudes exceeding 6.0 over several hours into Sunday, the US Geological Survey said.

The initial quake triggered tsunami warnings across the Pacific region and sent residents along the east coast of Mindanao fleeing buildings, evacuating a hospital and seeking higher ground.

There have been no reports of major damage to buildings or infrastructure so far, disaster officials said Sunday.

A 30-year-old man died in Bislig City, in Surigao del Sur province, when a wall inside his house collapsed on top of him, said local disaster official Pacifica Pedraverde.

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A pregnant woman was killed in Tagum city in Davao del Norte province, the national disaster agency said, without providing details.

Citing reports from the Office of the Civil Defense, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said 529 families representing 2,647 people were affected by the quake, with an epicenter near the town of Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur.

Teodoro said two bridges have been damaged and are now closed for repairs. Power has been restored in affected areas.

Classes in Davao del Norte have been suspended, and other local government units are assessing damages to determine if they will follow suit.

Some roads in the city were cracked during the earthquake and aftershocks but vehicles could still drive on them, she said.

Two people suffered minor injuries in Tandag City, about 100 kilometers north of Bislig, after they were hit by falling debris, an official said.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development says it is providing all the necessary assistance to affected families, including medicine and food with relief teams on the ground. Temporary shelters for those displaced will also be provided, Teodoro added.

Disaster officials in Hinatuan municipality, which was about 21 kilometres from the epicenter, said they were still inspecting villages for damage and casualties.

The Philippine seismology institute initially warned of a “destructive tsunami” that was expected to cause “life threatening” waves.

It issued a bulletin at 3:23 a.m. local time that the highest waves generated by the seismic activity were .64 meters (25 inches) tall on Mawes Island but also said the tsunami warning had ended.

Small swells were reported as far away as Japan’s eastern Pacific coast, where a tsunami warning was also briefly in effect. Palau, a western Pacific archipelago some 900 kilometers off Mindanao, reported no impact.

The earthquake came nearly two weeks after a 6.8 magnitude quake hit Mindanao, killing at least nine people, shaking buildings and causing part of a shopping mall ceiling to collapse.

President Marcos vowed support and assistance for individuals affected by a strong 7.4 magnitude earthquake that rattled Mindanao.

In a social media post on his X account, the President said that affected families will receive assistance from the government and that various agencies were collaborating to ensure the smooth operation of relief efforts.

“We continue to provide assistance to the families affected by the impact and aftermath of the magnitude 7.4 earthquake in Mindanao,” President Marcos said in his official X account.

“The DSWD and DILG, in collaboration with local government units, are actively coordinating efforts to provide essential aid to those in need,” he added.

President Marcos also said that even though no reported casualties or significant infrastructure damages, government agencies must not be complacent and must work together to ensure the safety of the earthquake affected areas.

“In these challenging times, let us unite as a nation. Together, we will overcome the obstacles posed by this disaster and emerge stronger,” Mr. Marcos added.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez expressed concern for the people of Surigao del Sur in the aftermath of the powerful earthquake.

“The House of Representatives acknowledges the severity of this disaster and is actively coordinating with relevant government agencies to ensure prompt and comprehensive support. Our commitment is to provide immediate relief and long-term assistance to the communities in distress,” he added,

“We are prepared to mobilize resources and pass urgent measures that can aid in the recovery and rebuilding efforts. The welfare and safety of our citizens are of utmost importance, and we will work tirelessly to address their needs during this critical time,” he added.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) was placed on Blue Alert status on Sunday morning following the earthquake.

In a memorandum released on Sunday morning, Assistant Secretary Hernando Caraig, Jr., Civil Defense Deputy Administrator for Operations, directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine Coast Guard, and Philippine National Police to detail duty officers to render duty at the NDRRMC Operations Center (NDRRMC) to ensure that coordination is streamlined and they would be able to assist in preparedness measures.

Meanwhile, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in the Davao Region and Caraga, where Surigao del Sur is located, is on red alert and closely monitoring developments in their respective areas of responsibility.

OCD-Caraga’s personnel are continuously conducting video teleconferences with local government units and response clusters to ensure streamlined coordination. — With AFP

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