AT least five persons died while scores were injured in the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that was felt in many areas in Mindanao, including President Duterte’s hometown, Davao City, on Wednesday night.
Many public and private buildings were also damaged by the quake which was tectonic in origin.
The tremor occurred at 7:37 p.m. Wednesday. Its epicenter was 22 km southeast of Tulunan, North Cotabato. It had a depth of eight kilometers and was felt at various intensities, including Intensity 7, in neighboring provinces including South Cotabato, Sarangani, General Santos City, Davao City, and Sultan Kudarat.
The earthquake also knocked out power and communications. Power in some areas was restored yesterday.
Among damaged buildings was the Gaisano mall in General Santos City, which was razed by fire. As of yesterday afternoon, firefighters were still trying to put out the fire, said the city’s provincial disaster risk reduction officer Bong Dacera.
Jorimae Balmediano, information officer of the Office of Civil Defense-Soccsksargen, said walls of eight commercial buildings (including SM General Santos and Veranza Mall) and three hospitals in the region had cracked walls. He said 17 houses were also damaged.
Balmediano said patients of the three hospitals had to be evacuated to open spaces and to other hospitals.
The Sanguniang Bayan building of M’lang, the municipal hall of Carmen, and Makilala Fire Station, all in North Cotabato, were also damaged.
In Davao del Sur, the Magsaysay town hall and four schools in Magsaysay and Digos City were also damaged. Fifteen houses were also damaged in Magsaysay.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said three of the fatalities were from Davao del Sur, and one each from Maguindanao and North Cotabato.
NDRRMC spokesman Mark Timbal said the fatalities from Davao del Sur were buried by a landslide in Barangay Malawanit, Magsaysay town. He said 18 others were injured in the landslide.
The OCD-Davao region named two of the fatalities — Argen Abundo, 22 and nine-month-old Jay Lakay.
Timbal said the two other fatalities validated by the NDRRMC were Jhonavie Sendad, a child whose age he cannot say, who was pinned by a collapsed wall in M’lang, North Cotabato, and Tony Panangulon, 50, who had a cardiac arrest in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao.
The fifth fatality was identified by the OCD-Davao region as two-year-old Crisjay Roda who was also pinned down by a collapsed wall in Barangay San Isidro in Magsaysay, Davao del Sur.
Timbal said the NDRRMC has recorded 27 injured in the Davao and Soccsksargen regions. But field reports said at least 89 were injured — 21 in the Magsaysay landslide and 68 in Soccsksargen areas.
Timbal could not immediately say the number of people displaced by the quake. He said authorities on the ground are still in the process of consolidating their information on the evacuees.
“The stability of our structures in these areas was tested,” said Timbal, adding however that the damage caused by the earthquake was not widespread. “Not all municipalities and cities in the provinces reported damage,” he said.
The tremor was felt at Intensity 7 in Tulunan and M’lang in North Cotabato, and Kidapawan City, and Intensity 6 in Digos City; Sto. Niño in South Cotabato, and Tacurong City;
Intensity 5 in Alabel and Malungon in Sarangani; Lake Sebu, Polomolok, Tampakan and Tupi in South Cotabato; Koronadal City; Roxas and Pikit in North Cotabato; General Santos City; Davao City; Kalamansig, Lebak and Palimbang in Sultan Kudarat; Tupi and Polomolok in South Cotabato; and Alabel, Sarangani.
Scores of aftershocks have been recorded as of yesterday afternoon.
Classes in many areas in the Davao, Soccsksargen and BARRM were suspended to give way to inspection of the stability of buildings.
The NDRRMC said at least 511 families or 2,555 persons were displaced by the quake in Soccsksargen. Authorities were still in the process of consolidating information on evacuees in other areas.
The Department of Education (DepEd) said at least 3,800 schools and almost 2 million students were affected by the earthquake.
The Department of Energy said power situation in Mindanao is back to normal as of yesterday.
Among the affected power plants were the Mindanao Geothermal Power Plant units 1 and 2 with a total net generation of 91 megawatts. Both units were restored yesterday.
The National Electrification Administration said all electric cooperatives that experienced power interruptions due to the tremor are back to normal operations.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, asked the public “to remain calm but vigilant” and “to refrain from spreading disinformation that may cause undue alarm, panic and stress to many people.”
Panelo also said there was no schedule yet as to when the President would visit those affected by the earthquake but he is expected to do so soon. – With Jed Macapagal, Rod agusad, Jocelyn Montemayor and Reuters