Quake damage in NorthCot reaches P60 million; class opening canceled in Carmen town

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 3 June) – The series of earthquakes that struck North Cotabato province since Saturday damaged infrastructures worth at least P60 million, with Monday’s opening of classes suspended in Carmen, the town that sits near the quakes’ epicenter, Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza said.

At 4:08 a.m. Monday, a 5.7 magnitude quake with the epicenter at 17 kilometer northwest of Carmen was recorded anew by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

Phivolcs recorded Intensity 5 in Kabacan, North Cotabato; Intensity 4 in Matalam, North Cotabato; Intensity 3 in Cagayan de Oro City, Davao City and in Kidapawan City, President Roxas, Arakan and Makilala in North Cotabato, and Cotabato City.

Intensity 2 was recorded in Koronadal City, South Cotabato; Quezon, Maramag, Valencia and Don Carlos in Bukidnon; and Misamis Oriental.

Intensity 1 was recorded in General Santos City and Butuan City.

Phivolcs said it was expecting damage to infrastructure and aftershocks.

The institute also recorded a magnitude 5.7 quake with the epicenter at 13 km northwest of Carmen last Saturday at 10:10 p.m.

As of 7:31 a.m. Monday, Phivolcs recorded a total of 15 tremors with Carmen as the epicenter, with the weakest at magnitude 3.4.

In a text message, Mendoza said that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has initially assessed the damaged to infrastructures in barangays Kibudtungan and Kimadzil at P60 million.

She said some houses’ walls were found to have collapsed, while solar driers, water systems, school buildings and barangay multi-purpose buildings suffered some cracks.

Boulders blocked a portion of the Carmen-Bukidnon national highway in Kimadzil due to landslide but the road is passable, she added.

But Roy Dorado, Office of Civil Defense Region 12 (OCD-12) operations division chief, did not confirm or deny Mendoza’s estimate on the damage, noting the OCD-12 is still awaiting results of the validation conducted by the different government agencies.

Mendoza said the Phivolcs has discovered “a new local fault line in the area.”

North Cotabato sits along the Cotabato Trench.

On August 16, 1976, a magnitude 8 earthquake involving the Cotabato Trench left 8,000 people dead or missing. The tremor generated a tsunami that caused most of the deaths.

Dorado said at least 141 houses in Carmen town have been destroyed or damaged by the earthquakes since Saturday night.

“Various government line agencies are still conducting an assessment to determine the exact extent of the quakes’ damage,” he told MindaNews in a phone interview.

At least 46 families have been provided with financial assistance worth P10,000 each, he said.

The Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council has placed Carmen under a state of calamity, Dorado said.

He added that the OCD-12, which is based in General Santos City, was expecting to have a comprehensive damage assessment report later today or tomorrow (Tuesday).

School opening suspended

The governor said in a text message that the opening of classes in Carmen town was deferred to ensure the safety of students.

The Department of Education and the DPWH have been checking the integrity of classroom buildings to avert a possible disaster involving school children.

Last Saturday’s quake injured at least five persons, four of them children, and partly destroyed 30 houses in Carmen town, Mendoza reported.

Their injuries were caused by falling rocks and hollow blocks, but were immediately given medical attention, she said.

Aside from the houses, the quake damaged the approach of a bridge that connects North Cotabato and Bukidnon provinces, but vehicles were still able to pass but only one at a time, Mendoza reported. (With reports from Keith Bacongco)