Surigao quake damages mall ceilings, big house in Agusan town

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews / 28 July) – The ceiling of Gaisano Grand Mall here collapsed and a part of a semi-concrete house in Talacogon town crumbled to the ground as the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) reported in its Earthquake Bulletin No. 3 that the magnitude 5.8 earthquake early Tuesday was felt in these areas as Intensity VI.

The house of Elmer Batisting in the municipality of Talacogon, Agusan del Sur was damaged during the magnitude 5.8 earthquake early morning Tuesday (28 July 2020). Photo courtesy of Jhungie Soronio Librias

PHIVOLCS, in its first bulletin on the quake, initially reported that the earthquake that occurred 1:32 a.m. was measured as magnitude 6 but later lowered it to 5.8. Its epicenter was recorded more than 30 kilometers off the coast of Bayabas and Cagwait, municipalities in Surigao del Sur facing the Pacific Ocean.

Mall goers and workers of Gaisano Grand, including the local media and the head of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office of this town, were not allowed to enter the shopping center even as some workers managed to get inside and took pictures of the damage before it opened at 9 a.m., according to San Francisco-based journalist Jhong Boston, station manager of SkyFM and correspondent of Periodico Agusan Sur.

A Facebook post by reporter Boy Tomoy showed pictures of the damaged ceiling at the second floor, fallen mannequins and food items scattered at the grocery racks, prompting the halt of the entry of people as a mall staff told them the store will be closed until a company engineer from Davao City will arrive and declare the building to be safe.

In Talacogon town, part of the big house of Elmer Batisting in San Agustin Village, where 13 people from three families were staying, crumbled to the ground at the height of the strong tremor.

In an interview posted over Facebook by Jhungie Soronio Librias, Batisting said they were lucky as they were able to run safely outside. He said some other portions of the house, which was built in 1976, was still livable and occupants went back inside.

In its Earthquake Information No. 3 issued 3:44 p.m. Tuesday, PHIVOLCS said they were expecting damage and aftershocks.

There were 11 aftershocks recorded near the epicenter as of Tuesday evening ranging from magnitude 1.7 to 3.6, the latest at 5:35 p.m.

PHIVOLCS said the quake was felt as Intensity V in Bayabas, Cagwait, and Marihatag in Surigao del Sur; as Intensity IV in the cities of Bislig and Tandag, in Hinatuan and Santa Josefa in Surigao del Sur, in Butuan City, in Rosario in Agusan del Sur, and in Tubay in Agusan del Norte.

It was an Intensity III in Surigao City, in Gingoog City, in Magsaysay and Medina in Misamis Oriental; Intensity II in Balingasag, Jasaan, Salay, Tagoloan, and Villanueva, Misamis Oriental, also in Cagayan de Oro City, in Alabel in Sarangani; and as Intensity I in Mambajao in Camiguin, in Valencia City and Maramag in Bukidnon. (Chris V. Panganiban / MindaNews)