SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/01 September) — Thousands of residents living along the coast facing the Pacific Ocean fled to higher grounds following the strong earthquake that struck the eastern part of the Philippines that triggered a tsunami alert at around 9 p.m. Friday.
The quake tsunami alert was lifted at midnight.
In Cagayan de Oro City, a 44-year-old grandmother was killed while her five-year-old grandson was injured when a landslide buried a portion of their house in Upper Kolambong, Barangay Lapasan at the height of the quake.
In Socorro, Surigao del Norte, Edilito Sangcko, municipal agriculturist, told MindaNews there was a stampede at the municipal gym where the opening night of the Siargao Division Math Festival was held. No one was reported injured, he said.
Sangcko said a balcony of a house was reported to have collapsed there.
In Surigao City, City Hal had to cut short its City Officials and Employees Night at the city gymnasium when the earthquake struck. The party, which started at 6 p.m. was part of the celebration of the city’s 42nd Charter Day.
Rey Casurra, chief of the Office of Barangay Affairs, said the earthquake drills helped ensure no stampede would occur.
According to Earthquake Information 2 of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the magnitude 7.7 quake of tectonic origin struck at 8:47 p.m. 112 kms off Guiaan in Eastern Samar.
It was recorded at Intensity 7 in Guian, Oras, Sulat, Borongan City, Eastern Samar; Intensity 6 in Siargao, Surigao del Norte; Tacloban City; Palo in Leyte; Saint Bernard; Intenstiy 5 in Mati City; Compostela in Compostela Province and the cities of Legaspi, Iloilo and Bislig; Intensity 4 in the cities of BUtuan, Catbalogan, Cagayan de Oro; Intensity 3 in Cotabato City; Mambajao, Camiguin and General Santos City; and Intensity 2 in Marawi City and Sipalay City.
Phivolcs raised Tsunami Alert 3 in Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Surigao del Norte and Surigao Sur at 9:01 p.m. but lifted it at midnight.
Residents living in the eastern seaboard were urged to evacuate as precautionary measure but Phivolcs cancelled the alert at 12:10 a.m. when the waves did not reach life-threatening heights.
In Cagayan de Oro City, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) report posted on its website said a landslide occurred in Dacudao Compound, Upper Kolambong, Barangay Lapasan in Cagayan de Oro City. The report said the landslide buried a portion of the house of Danilo Ublade.
Armen Cuenca, chief of the Cagayan de Oro Disaster Risk Reduction Management Unit said Ubalde’s wife Emelita, 44, was pronounced dead on arrival at the Capitol University Hospital while her five-year old grandson, Adrian Rosales, was treated for injuries.
Wilfredo Abella, a neighbor in the same compound, said the Ubaldes were watching TV, as they all do every night, when the tremor struck.
Abella said at first, the elder Ubalde tried to get out of the house but returned when she heard her grandson crying for help.
“When she went inside the house, the entire side of the hill collapsed on (a portion of ) their house,” Abella said.
Abella said he and his neighbors rushed to the house and pulled them out.
The earthquake casualty came after a flash flood destroyed seven houses in Barangay Tablon, also in Cagayan de Oro City.
In Iligan City, what was supposed to be a quiet night for watching the blue moon quickly changed as residents screamed “linog” (earthquake).
Helen Demco, a vendor in her 60s, said her customers in the internet café stopped browsing sites and went out during the quake.
In Sarangani province, Governor Miguel Rene Dominguez said, “we all went out of the house.”
In Malaybalay, Bukidnon, residents complained having felt dizzy. A resident said he “felt the wall dance.“
In Davao City, Amalia Bandiola, Mindanao Times editor in chief said she was in a grocery when “a box of cream toppled over. Then I thought I was dizzy but I saw the signages and the beams swinging. There were two kids running to their moms who kept saying ‘don’t panic.’ It was like putting on rollerblades.”
“Don’t panic, don’t panic”
In Surigao City, at a downtown flea market in Borromeo corner Kaimo streets, screams could be heard as vendors and buyers rushed to the center of the road, an elderly woman calling praying “Jesus, Jesus, please help us.”
A man helped comfort children who were panicking and crying, as buildings around them swayed.
More screams were heard when the power supply was cut off.
“Don’t panic, don’t panic,” a young man addressed the crowd.
At Gaisano Mall, where a about a hundred persons were injured during a 5.9 magnitude quake on March 16 this year, the quake occurred, fortunately, shortly after the drum and lyre competition ended.
“I totally panicked, shocked at the intensity of the quake,” student Jayson Plaza said.
Plaza said his collection of glass, decorative arts and figurines were shattered when he checked his room shortly after the quake.
Patients dashed out of the Miranda Family Hospital and Surigao Medical Center at Kilometer 1 in Barangay Washington.
Surigao del Norte Governor Sol F. Matugas told MindaNews she had ordered the mayors of the coastal towns facing the Pacific Ocean – Siargao, Socorro, Burgos, San Benito, Pilar, among others – to ensure residents along the coastal areas flee to higher grounds.
Matugas said among the initial reports she received is some reported damaged at the Boardwalk in General Luna, Siargao. She said some of the railings reportedly cracked.
The NDRRMC reported that in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur, home to crocodile Lolong, a house reportedly caught fire after a gas lamp fell at the height of the quake. No casualties were reported. (Roel Catoto, Vanessa Almeda, Froilan Gallardo, Bobby Timonera, Violeta M. Gloria, Bong Sarmiento, Malu Manar, Carolyn O. Arguillas, Ruby Thursday More and Walter Balane/MindaNews)