Aftershocks send Surigao residents to higher ground

Worried over the aftershocks that may follow the magnitude 6.7 earthquake late Friday night, Surigao City residents living in coastal areas have set up camp at the Provincial Convention Center, which is situated on high ground. MindaNews photo by Roel N. Catoto

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 12 Feb) – Residents here are worried over the numerous aftershocks following the magnitude 6.7 earthquake late Friday evening that many of them have sought higher ground.

Around 500 people have already set up camp at the Provincial Convention Center near the provincial capitol compound, which is on an elevated part of the city over 30 meters high.

Many residents who lined up in the streets to wait for President Rodrigo Duterte’s arrival around noon today likewise panicked and ran away from tall buildings when an aftershock occurred.

According to the list of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) in its website, the last aftershock occurred at 11:01 a.m. Sunday with a magnitude of 4.1, its epicenter just a few kilometers west of the city.

MindaNews counted around 70 aftershocks that happened near the big quake, including a few others in the eastern half of Mindanao.

“We were caught off guard during the earthquake,” said the traumatized Maria Espania, who was hit by debris.

Espania and her six children, who live in a coastal area in Purok 3 in Barangay San Juan, are now staying on the pavement of the convention center using a piece of plywood.

“It’s cold in here. We’re having a hard time sleeping as it’s not comfortable. But it is better here because we’re safe from tsunamis,” she said in the vernacular.

She said she was scared to death during the earthquake.

“We were trembling and we didn’t know what to do. My kids panicked, wailing,” Espania said, adding that her house sustained only minor damage.

Espania is among the 500 or so individuals who are now staying at the Provincial Convention Center. They are mostly women and children.

Albert Pepito, 18, of Nueva Extension located in Barangay Taft, said he is not taking any chances.

Though he had not suffered any injury during the big quake, he is afraid of the aftershocks. He said he is more relaxed at the convention center compared to his house in the coastal area.

“Although there is no place like home, but with this kind of situation I think it’s better to leave in the meantime,” he said. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)