Ever since October of this year, the main southern Philippine island of Mindanao has been acting much like Japan, prone to being visited by noticeably strong earthquakes. Easily remembered some two months ago is the series of strong tremors that struck in and around the province of Cotabato, particularly the municipality of Tulunan, resulting in casualties, structural damage and a mall in GenSan being partially gutted by fire. Then, in the previous month, another quake rattled Mindanao from its originating point in Bukidnon. Since then, Mindanaoans have been taking earthquake drills and reminders seriously. This preparedness was put to the test this Sunday, when yet another tremor shook the region.
CNN Philippines reports that a strong earthquake rattled Mindanao once more in the afternoon of December 15. The tremors, which occurred at 2:11 PM, were measured at around 6.9 in magnitude at its strongest west of the municipality of Matanao in Davao del Sur. As it was significantly inland, there was no danger of the quake triggering tsunamis in the province and surrounding areas, but the expected structural damage from the shaking was quite pronounced, along with the casualties. In Matanao itself, a 6-year old girl was killed when her family’s house collapsed on her.
In nearby Padada, a three-story shopping center also collapsed, causing the death of three people and trapping around seven more in the interior. Engr. Luke Cadoyas of the Davao del Sur Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) has noted that the trapped people have yet to be extracted from the unstable structure, but assures that their visual locations within have been established for the moment when a rescue is carried out. At least one of the trapped, an employee of the Southern Trade Grocery Store, has made contact with the outside with her phone.
Measurements by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) have the following Intensity levels of earthquakes in the following areas: Intensity 7 in Matanao and Magsaysay in Davao del Sur; Intensity 6 in Bansalan (DdS), Kidapawan City in North Cotabato, Alabel and Malapatan in Sarangani, and General Santos City; Intensity 5 in Davao City, Cotabato City, Tulunan and Matalam in Cotabato province, and Glan in Sarangani; Intensity 3 in Bukidnon’s Dangcagan, Kalilangan and Takalag; Intensity 2 in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Dipolog, and Impasugong, Bukidnon; and finally Intensity 1 in Zamboanga del Sur. In Butuan City, small indications of the earthquake were caught in CCTV footage.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who was in Davao at the time of the earthquake, was unharmed along with his family. Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio declared the suspension of classes in Davao, while in-depth investigation of buildings such as malls and structures such as bridges were carried out. In GenSan, some of the malls actually reported closure this Monday, December 16, while inspections for earthquake damage were performed.
Image courtesy of Philippine Star