MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 3 – 10:35 a.m.) A powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of southern Mindanao early Saturday morning, triggering a tsunami warning with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology advising of possible damage and aftershocks.
In General Santos City, an old building collapsed and netizens posted photos on social media showing some damage – torn off tiles and broken glass panels – at city hall.
City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Dr. Agripino Dacera Jr. said the only victim they recorded was Ronilo Gamboa, 34, a construction worker from Sarangani province who suffered minor leg injuries when he rushed out of their bunkhouse at a construction site in Alabel town.
Phivolcs said the tectonic quake struck at 4:23 a.m. and was felt as far away as Cagayan de Oro City in northern Mindanao and Zamboanga City on the western tip of the island.
The quake’s epicenter was 53 kilometers southwest of Sarangani town at a depth of 57 kilometers.
It was followed by a 4.1-magnitude aftershock at 4:54 a.m.
The US Geological Survey measured the quake at magnitude 6.8.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said waves of 0.3 to 1 meter above the tide level were possible along parts of the Philippine coast line.
But Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum told Reuters no tsunami warning was issued and there was no need to evacuate the areas affected.
Phivolcs did issue an advisory saying people could expect a minor drop in the sea level, large waves, and people should steer clear of the coast, he said.
The Philippines is on the geologically active Pacific Ring of Fire and experiences frequent earthquakes, several last month in the main island of Luzon, which were felt in the capital Manila.
Janet Bongolan, tourism officer at the Tuka Marine Park in Sarangani province, said people spilled out of their homes and into the streets during the earthquake, but most had returned and there was no sign of panic.
“There’s no news here that there will be a tsunami. But we are watching out for aftershocks. We are careful here,” she said by telephone.
Harry Camoro, a disaster official in Davao province, said people on the coast saw the waterline receding before retuning to normal.
“It was strong enough to awaken me and my family,” he told a radio interview.
The quake was felt in the following areas:
- Intensity V- General Santos City; Koronadal City; Santa Maria, Jose Abad Santos,
Don Marcelino, Balot Island, Davao Occidental; Polomolok, Tupi, South Cotabato; Alabel,
Malapatan, Glan, Sarangani; Palimbag, Sultan Kudarat
- Intensity IV- Davao City; Cotabato City; Zamboanga City
- Intensity III- Cagayan De Oro City
- Intensity II- Kidapawan City
(with a report from the Philippine News Agency)