MANILA, Philippines (9th UPDATE) – A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck between the islands of Negros and Cebu before noon Monday, killing at least 7 people and prompting government volcanologists to raise a tsunami alert.
Director Renato Solidum of the the Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the quake struck 5 kilometers northwest of Tayasan, Negros Oriental at 11: 49 a.m. The quake was tectonic in origin, he said.
The quake was followed by four aftershocks measuring between magnitudes 4.5 to 5.8. Phivolcs seismologist Ishmael Narag said the trend in their data suggests that the region is unlikely to experience another earthquake with a magnitude higher than 6.9.
Phivolcs raised tsunami alert level 2 in Negros and Cebu, warning residents in coastal areas to seek higher ground. The alert was lifted at 2:30 p.m.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) chief Benito Ramos said 9-year-old Bernadette Raidan and another child from Tayasan, Negros Oriental were killed after a wall fell on them.
Another fatality was identified as Anna Fe Estrapella, a Grade 6 pupil from Jimalalud who was also crushed by a collapsed chapel wall.
The NDRRMC also reported 4 other fatalities in Gihulngan City. The circumstances of their deaths were not yet specified.
A report from June Perez of DYAB Cebu said the quake caused slight panic in Cebu City as residents started running to different establishments.
Ramos advised residents not to return to areas vulnerable to another aftershock.
“Kung pwede lang hindi muna pupunta sa mga bahay, dahil hindi natin alam kung kalian mag after shock. Dapat [pumunta sila] sa mga open spaces,” Ramos said.
Phivolcs said the following intensities were felt in the following areas:
- Intensity VII - Dumaguete City; Vallehermoso, Negros Oriental
- Intensity VI - La Carlota City and La Castellana, Negros Occidental; Argao, Cebu
- Intensity V - Roxas City; Dao and Ivisan, Capiz; Iloilo City; Ayungon, Negros Oriental; Kanlaon City; Lapu-lapu City; Guimaras; Cebu City; San Carlos City; Bacolod City; Sagay City; Tagbilaran City; Candoni, Binalbagan, Negros Occidental
- Intensity IV - San Jose de Buenavista, Pandan, Anini-y, Patnungon, Antique; Kalibo, Aklan; Dipolog City; Sipalay, Negros Occidental; Ormoc City
- Intensity III - Butuan City, Agusan del Norte; Legaspi City, Albay; Carmen, Cagayan de Oro; Tacloban City; Catbalogan; Saint Bernard, Southern Leyte; Masbate, Masbate; Cagayan de Oro City
- Intensity II - Cabid-an, Sorsogon; Borongan, Eastern Samar; Mambajao, Camiguin
- Intensity I - Pagadian City
The United States Geological Survey, meanwhile, initially measured the magnitude of the quake at 6.8. It later revised the magnitude at 6.7.
The USGS listed the following areas as the epicenter:
- 70 kms (44 miles) north from Dumaguete, Negros
- 79 kms (49 miles) west northwest from Tagbilaran, Bohol
- 80 kms (50 miles) south southeast from Bacolod, Negros
- 574 kms (356 miles) south southeast from Manila
The agency said the earthquake had a depth of 46.6 kms.
The USGS has also recorded at least 2 aftershocks from the strong quake.
The first recorded aftershock, which had a magnitude of 4.8, occurred 62 kms north of Dumaguete at 12:03 p.m.
The second aftershock, which had a magnitude of 5.6, was recorded at 12:20 p.m. 71 kms south southeast of Bacolod.
ridges impassable, power outage
In Negros Oriental, Governor Roel Degamo said at least 2 bridges were rendered impassable because of the cracks they sustained. Several highways, churches, buildings and houses were also damaged.
“Badly damaged itong northern portion ng Negros Oriental galing sa municipality ng Manuyod up to municipality of Vallehermoso,” Degamo told dzMM.
Degamo added residents living in coastal areas have been advised to leave their homes.
A report from Yasmin Pascual Dormido on radio dzMM said several schools have suspended classes after a strong quake and several aftershocks hit the cities of Bacolod and Kabankalan.
The quake also knocked down power lines in Kabankalan, causing a blackout.
E. Samar quake
Phivolcs Deputy Director Bartolome Bautista said today's earthquake is not necessarily related with the recent quakes that occurred in Eastern Samar over the weekend.
Eastern Samar on Saturday experienced a 5.9 magnitude which was followed by 9 relatively strong ones until Sunday.
"Dahil sa dalas ng earthquake sa atin, mahirap nating i-confirm na related sila, puwdeng nagkataon lang," Bautista said in a press conference. With reports from dzMM