A MAGNITUDE 6.6 earthquake rocked North Cotabato and nearby areas in Mindanao yesterday morning, killing at least seven people, injuring hundreds of others, and damaging numerous structures.
The quake comes two weeks after the magnitude 6.3 tremor that rocked the same areas and left seven persons dead and 215 other injured. The October 16 quake also destroyed or damaged at least 7,000 structures.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said yesterday’s quake occurred at around 9:04 a.m. Its epicenter was some 25 km southeast of Tulunan town in North Cotabato. The quake was tectonic in origin and had a depth of seven kilometers.
The October 16 quake occurred 22 kilometers southeast of Tulunan town and had a depth of 15 km. It was also tectonic in origin.
Yesterday’s quake was felt at Intensity 7 in Tulunan and Makilala towns in North Cotabato, Kidapawan City, and Malungon town in Sarangani; Intensity 6 in Davao City, Koronadal City, and Cagayan de Oro City;
Intensity 5 in Alabel in Sarangani and Tampakan, Surallah and Tupi towns in South Cotabato; and Intensity 4 in General Santos City and Kalilangan town in Bukidnon.
Phivolcs director Renato Solidum said yesterday’s quake was “related” to the October 16 tremor.
“They are related, same areas in Tulunan,” he said in a radio interview.
“Because of the length of the fault line, it’s possible that only a portion will move or that other faults nearby will move due to stress,” he also said.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said one of the fatalities is Nestor Narciso, 66, who was hit by falling debris in Koronadal City and died from head trauma.
There were two dead from Davao del Sur. One is Jessie Riel Barba, 15, a Grade 9 student of the Casuga National High School, who was hit by falling debris while rushing out of the school during the quake, said Cpl. Krister John Nahine, spokesman of the Magsaysay town police.
The other is Benita Sabban who died in a landslide in Barangay Tagaytay, also in Magsaysay town.
Nahine said three other landslides were reported in Magsaysay town, specifically in barangays Upper Bala, Maibu, and Balnate.
Two persons were reported missing in the Upper Bala landslide, said Nahine.
Nahine also said at least 300 people were reported injured in the town.
In North Cotabato, provincial disaster risk reduction officer Mercedita Foronda said a father and his child, described to be between five and six years of age, died after they were hit by boulders that rolled down the mountain.
“They were at the farm. Because of the earthquake, they were hit by the rolling boulders,” said Foronda.
She said another child, a one-year-old, was brought to a hospital for injuries.
Mayor Reuel Limbungan of Tulunan, North Cotabato said a pregnant woman was pinned down by an fallen tree outside her house in the town. “In barangays Daig, Paraiso, and Magpok, I can declare that 90 percent of the structures there were damaged,” Limbungan told a radio interview.
In Digos City, an employee of the Nagayama Group of Companies died of cardiac arrest during the quake, said city mayor Josef Cagas. The employee was identified in initial reports as Jeramie Sarno, 36.
Cagas said 70 were reported injured in Digos City, including a department store worker who had “serious” wounds.
The earthquake sent people scrambling as it shook buildings.
Power cables swayed in Davao City, the hometown of President Duterte, where people rushed to open spaces, while some fainted out of fear.
The quake also triggered power cuts in nearby General Santos city, media said.
Some schools in the area have suspended classes.
Disaster officials said they were monitoring the situation, as further information on damage and possible casualties trickles in.
The National Electrification Administration (NEA) said power supply was partially restored to several areas in North Cotabato.
Affected by power interruptions were Cotabato, South Cotabato, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Lanao del Norte, and Lanao del Sur.
Malacañang, through presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, asked the public “to remain calm but vigilant” and urged them “to refrain from spreading disinformation that may cause undue alarm, panic and stress to many people.”
Panelo also said there is yet no decision yet on whether President Duterte will visit the earthquake-affected areas.
Archbishop Romulo Valles, head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, and Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle asked the faithful to pray for the quake victims.
Valles was in Davao City during the quake.
“Here in Davao City, many people ran out from buildings and homes. We, at the Archbishop’s Residence… all ran out of the residence building for safety,” he said. – With Jocelyn Montemayor, Jed Macapagal, Gerard Naval, and Reuters