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Strong quake rocks Mindanao; 7 dead

LOOK | Earthquake-damaged building inside Cor Jesu College in Digos City after a magnitude 6.3 tremor jolted parts of Mindanao on Wednesday, October 16, 2019. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

MANILA, Oct 30, 2019, PhilStar. A magnitude 6.6 earthquake shook several areas in Mindanao yesterday, killing seven persons in North and South Cotabato and Davao del Sur and injuring scores of others in various parts of the region, almost two weeks after a deadly temblor hit the same area, reported the Philippine Star.

The quake occurred at 9:04 a.m. and was felt strongest in Tulunan and Makilala, Cotabato; Kidapawan City and Malungon, Sarangani.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned of more possible damage and urged the public to brace for aftershocks.

The epicenter was located at 25 kilometers southeast of Tulunan, Cotabato, where a magnitude 6.4 quake struck on Oct. 16, killing at least seven persons.

Some residents of Tulunan are still recovering from the effects of the earlier quake.

Local officials reported at least seven fatalities while several others were wounded and numerous properties and infrastructure destroyed by the strong quake, which was followed by several aftershocks that were also strong enough to cause panic among residents.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) identified one of the fatalities as Nestor Narciso, 66, a retired ambulance driver of the South Cotabato provincial hospital.

Narciso was hit by a concrete slab that fell from the second floor of a building in Koronadal City.

Authorities said Jesse Barba, 15, a Grade 9 student died after he was hit by falling debris when portions of a building collapsed at the Casuga National High School in Magsaysay, Davao del Sur.

Another fatality, Benita Saban, was buried by a landslide that struck their house in Barangay Tagaytay also in Magsaysay, Davao.

North Cotabato Provincial Disaster Risk and Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) chief Mercedita Foronda reported that a father and son, not immediately identified, were pinned to death by boulders as the victims were tending their farm in Barangay Lanao Kuran, Arakan Valley, North Cotabato.

Foronda said that a third victim survived and is now confined in a local hospital.

In Tulunan town, the epicenter of the magnitude 6.6 quake, a still unidentified pregnant woman was pinned to death by a falling tree, Mayor Reuel Limbungan told radio station dzMM.

Limbungan also reported that almost 90 percent of structures in three villages in Tulunan have collapsed.

Seven classrooms collapsed and two others were destroyed and injured five students, two of whom have to be confined at the hospital while three others were given first aid.

Tulunan Vice Mayor Maureen Villamor said that two teachers sustained bruises, while another who is pregnant had to be rushed to a nearby hospital.

Digos City Mayor Josef Cagas reported that another victim, identified as Gerame Sarno, 36, an employee of the Nagayama Group of Companies, succumbed to a heart attack at the height of the tremor.

He added another victim was critically injured in one of the damaged department stores in the city.

Cagas told radio station dzBB that the city council is meeting today for the planned declaration of a state of calamity in the city.

Officials said 30 others were reported injured in Kidapawan City and 13 others hurt in M’lang, North Cotabato.

Local officials said at least 20 people, including children, were hurt when their houses collapsed in different towns in North Cotabato.

Scores of elementary school pupils also suffered bruises and contusions when they were hit by falling debris from damaged classrooms in Makilala, Tulunan and M’lang.

Palace assurance

Malacañang assured the public that efforts are underway to assist the communities affected by the earthquake. ?“The President is concerned with what happened in the latest earthquake in Mindanao, and he has directed all the agencies to provide assistance to the victims of the earthquake and continue with their usual reactions to situations such as this one,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said at a press briefing. ?“All responsible government agencies and local government units are currently undertaking rapid damage assessment and needs analysis of affected areas and communities in order to properly assess the situation and coordinate rescue and relief operations,” he added. ?Panelo said the national government, through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the Office of Civil Defense, is closely monitoring the situation in Mindanao.?“We ask our citizens to remain calm but vigilant and we urge them to refrain from spreading disinformation that may cause undue alarm, panic and stress to many people. We also urge them to monitor developments through the alerts and bulletins of official government channels,” he said.

Local officials have suspended classes in all levels in Davao City as well as in other areas, especially those near the epicenter.

Authorities have yet to assess the damage to infrastructure and other buildings brought about by the latest earthquake.

Phivolcs director Renato Solidum Jr. said yesterday’s tremor and the earlier quake in Cotabato were related.

Local officials in quake stricken areas in Davao region, Central Mindanao and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARRM), particularly in the province of Maguindanao, have ordered the suspension of classes and allowed government employees to go home for safety reasons as well as to pave the way for the inspection of damaged structures.

Mark Timbal, NDRRMC spokesman, said that continuous monitoring is currently being done on the prevailing situation on the ground, particularly on the stability of 5,777 houses, government and private establishments that were partially damaged in the Oct. 16 quake in Central Mindanao, Davao region, Northern Mindanao and BARRM.

Officials also suspended classes in North Cotabato and Kidapawan City after the earthquake.

Several buildings along stretches of the Cotabato-Davao highway in Makilala, Cotabato were also damaged.

Personnel of the Kidapawan City Doctors’ Hospital hurriedly moved patients out to ensure their safety.

Several vehicles also figured in accidents in Makilala, apparently derailed by the earthquake while in transit.

A building in the North Cotabato provincial capitol in Kidapawan City, where trade fairs and big gatherings are held, has been destroyed.

Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi suspended classes in all schools in the 37 barangays in the city.

Yesterday’s quake was felt in Malungon, Sarangani; Davao City; Cagayan de Oro City, Tampakan, Surallah and Tupi, South Cotabato and Alabel, Sarangani, General Santos City and Kalilangan, Bukidnon; Sergio Osmeña Sr., Zamboanga del Norte; Zamboanga City; Dipolog City; Molave, Zamboanga del Norte; and Talakag, Bukidnon and Camiguin.

The Philippines sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common.

Prayers

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle has extended prayers to the earthquake victims in Mindanao as he urged the public to be open to those who are in need amid the calamity.

“We are calling on everyone, first, to pray for the safety of our brothers affected by the earthquake,” Tagle said in Filipino a radio interview.

He said it is only through prayers that the residents in the earthquake affected areas will feel safe.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) yesterday mobilized its forces to assist victims of the latest tremor in Mindanao.

PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa ordered all police commanders in Mindanao to immediately deploy their personnel and equipment to respond to calls for assistance in coordination with local government units.

“There are specific drills that are being followed and the PNP will fully participate in whatever role,” he said.

PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac urged the public to remain calm and follow instructions from local authorities.

“Staying calm and composed would be very helpful for us to effectively maintain peace and order,” he said in a statement.

Banac assured the public police officers are ready to respond and help the public during emergencies.

Maj. Arvin John Encinas, spokesman for the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said the ground unit of 6th Infantry Division and its forward camps in worst hit areas were not affected.

Encinas said the troops on the ground automatically responded to assist affected communities as all battalions have emergency response units.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) reported no damage to airports after the tremor and aftershocks in Mindanao.?CAAP said the Butuan Airport, Davao International Airport, Cotabato Airport, General Santos International Airport, Laguindingan Airport reported no damage to infrastructure, runway and facilities.?Meanwhile, no effect of the earthquake was felt in other satellite airports such as in Ozamiz, Camiguin and Iligan.?Safety and serviceability inspections were conducted by the CAAP Security and Intelligence Service, Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting, Air Navigation Service and the respective airports’ engineering offices on the following facilities: the passenger terminal building, tower, runway, VHF Omnidirectional Radio Range and other navigational aid shelters.?Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker and 1-Pacman party-list Rep. Mikee Romero filed a measure that will establish a new Building Code amid growing incidents of earthquakes in the country.

House Bill 4008 or the proposed Philippine Building Act of 2019 seeks to repeal the outdated Presidential Decree 1096 or National Building Code, which was created in 1977.

“It is abundantly clear that poor compliance with the National Building Code is part of the systemic reason for the deaths, injuries and widespread damage in Mindanao because of today’s magnitude 6.6 earthquake and the magnitude 6.3 earthquake last Oct. 16,” he explained.

With Alexis Romero, Robertzon Ramirez, Emmanuel Tupas, Rudy Santos, Edu Punay, Edith Regalado, John Unson, Roel Pareño

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