Quakes jolt Davao, neighboring areas

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 November) – At least five earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 3.8 to 5.2 struck this city and neighboring areas Saturday, the earthquake bulletin issued by the Philippine Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) showed.

The first quake, recorded at magnitude 3.8,  occurred at 12:57 midnight, 229 km southeast of Tarragona, Davao Oriental; followed by a magnitude 4.7 quake at 1.33 a.m. located at 16 kilometers northwest of Davao City.

At 6:20 p.m. another quake, recorded at magnitude 3.2 struck 12 kilometers northwest of Carmen in North Cotabato, followed by a magnitude 4.0 quake at 7:27 p.m. at 126 kms southwest of Sarangani in Davao Occidental and a 5.2 magnitude at 34 kms southeast of Sarangani, Davao Occidental.

Emmanuel Jaldon, chief of Davao City’s Central 911, said no damage was reported during the 1:33 a.m. quake that jolted residents awake.

Intensity 4 was felt in Davao City and Kidapawan in North Cotabato, Intensity 3 in Makilala and Intensity 2 in Kabacan and Arakan, also in North Cotabato, the Phivolcs said.

Jaldon said his office holds annual earthquake/tsunami drills to raise awareness among the communities on what to do should an earthquake of “disaster category” hits the city.

This year’s drills were conducted on July 23 along the city’s 21 coastal barangays (the city has 182 barangays), aimed at gauging the preparedness of the coastal communities, test the early warning devices installed in those areas, and mobilize the city’s equipment for disaster response.

In a press conference in August, Liza Mazo, Director of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) 11 said there is a need for the city, which has not been hit by a strong earthquake, to come up with an impact reduction study that would provide estimates on the number of people who would be killed or injured in case a 7.2-magnitude quake, or the “Big One” would happen.

She said the city has no study similar to what the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) did which estimated around 34,000 persons dead and 18,000 others injured if the “Big One” hits Metro Manila.

Mazo said the intended study will determine the risk levels for each area in Davao City . to allow the local government to better prepare for extreme cases.

Jaldon added that the Central 911 has equipment for disaster response but he cannot ascertain if these would be enough to cover an area as big as the city should there be an earthquake of disaster category.

“We have resources but we are not sure if these will not be compromised during disasters,” he added.

Another option will be to seek other LGUs’ help to assist in the disaster response operations “when worse comes to worst,” he said.

“We just don’t rely on 911’s resources. This will take a muti-agency effort. If we cannot handle it on a city-level, then we will need the help of the other regions or the national agencies will come to aid us, or even the international groups,” he said.

Jaldon had earlier said the residents’ level of awareness on disaster risk reduction and management is high but preparedness is low.

But the response of the people for this year’s drills was better compared with last year’,s he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews with reports)