(UPDATED – 6:28 a.m., July 7, 2017) MANILA, Philippines – An earthquake of magnitude 6.5 struck Leyte on Thursday, leaving at least two persons dead and many others injured.
A tally posted by Ormoc City as of 7:42 p.m. showed at least 103 persons had been treated there, including a female patient form Kananga town whose leg had to be amputated.
The tremor of tectonic origin that had a depth of focus of two kilometers and occurred at 4:03 p.m. also damaged houses and other properties. Its epicenter was traced eight kilometers southwest of Jaro, a third class municipality in Leyte.
Aftershocks continued to rattle the province overnight with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology recording more than 40 measuring from magnitude 2.1 to 4.3.
Ormoc Mayor Richard Gomez said he was on the second floor of his office and presiding a meeting with members of the local disaster council when the city was hit by the quake, which made him think that this could already be his end.
“Lord, eto na ba talaga ‘yon? Oras na ba? [Lord, is this really it? Is it time?],” Gomez said during a radio interview Thursday, recalling what he was saying while he was feeling the tremor’s intensity.
“Malakas talaga, nasa illaim kami ng lamesa lahat, mga 15 seconds ang earthquake [It was really strong, we were all under the table, the earthquake lasted for about 15 seconds],” he added.
1 dead, 20 hurt as establishment collapses in Kananga
Gomez said he had received reports that a building in Kananga, which is near Ormoc, had collapsed.
Kananga Mayor Rowena Codilla confirmed the incident in a separate radio interview Thursday night. She said 42-year-old Jerry Mediavilla, who was from Ormoc, died when the establishment, which houses a grocery store and a pension inn, fell down.
About 20 more people were hurt and are now being treated in hospitals, according to the mayor.
Kananga is a first class municipality with a population of close to 60,000 people.
Gomez said an 18-year old woman also died in a landslide in Ormoc, but her five-month old infant survived.
Lucy Torres-Gomez, representative of the Fourth District of Leyte, said the aftershocks in Ormoc were stronger than usual.
“Mas malakas compared sa usual aftershocks, ito para pa rin s’yang nakakatakot na lindol ang aftershock,” she said in another radio interview, adding that she had received reports that there were residents who were injured.
Classes suspended in Ormoc
Mayor Gomez said he had ordered the suspension of all classes in Ormoc following the tremor.
“Walang kuryente dito [There’s no electricity here], we’re running on batteries and generators,” he said.
He said landslides had occurred in some mountainous barangays in Ormoc and that cracks on major highways were reported “but these remain passable.”
In Tacloban and Cebu, the tremor caused panic among residents, including employees and students who ran out of buildings and scampered to safety as the ground shook beneath them. Parents, meanwhile, rushed to schools to check on their children.
The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) reported that the tremor had caused blackouts in Leyte, Samar, and Bohol.
Power interruptions were also experienced in Panay, Negros, and Cebu but “are now fully restored,” the NGCP said in an advisory released at 6 p.m.
Richard B. Tantoco, Energy Development Corp. (EDC) president and chief operating officer, said in a statement that, “Initial reports from our Leyte plant have all employees accounted for, with some reporting minor injuries.”
“We are aware of news reports of plant damage and are currently awaiting further assessments on the state of our physical assets to determine the exact nature of any damage to our plants,” he added.
No damage to Leyte airports
Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said the quake “had cause no damage to airports operating in” Leyte.
CAAP said that based on the initial assessment report by its area manager, Engineer Danilo Abareta, the Calbayog, Catarman and Tacloban Airports, which are operating regular commercial flights, “are in normal condition.”
It added that the Ormoc airport “is now being evaluated if it indeed sustain(ed) damage at the end of runway 36 and 18.”
Below are photos from netizens of houses and other establishments damaged by the quake:
‘Not a major quake’
Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum said the tremor was not a major earthquake. He said major temblors “are magnitude 7 or greater.”
“Kung sa category, hindi pa ‘yan major earthquake…Ang magnitude 6.5 ay strong, pero sa rural areas ‘di talaga damaging [It’s not yet a major earthquake based on categories…A magnitude 6.5 quake is strong but in rural areas, it’s not really damaging],” said Solidum in an interview Thursday afternoon.
Solidum said that while Tacloban and Cebu felt the highest intensity, there were no significant damage expected in these places.
“Naramdaman sa Tacloban and Cebu, naramdaman lahat ng tao, malakas, pero hindi naman mapanira ‘yon [It was felt in Tacloban and Cebu, it was felt by all people there, it was strong but it’s not damaging]” he said.
The U.S. Geological Survey put the quake’s magnitude at 6.9., which it said hit at a depth of 41 km (26 miles) about 580 km (360 miles) southwest of Manila.
These intensities were felt in the following areas, according to Phivolcs.
- Intensity V – Tacloban City; Palo, Leyte; Cebu City
- Intensity IV – Tolosa, Leyte; Sagay City, Negros Occidental; Burgos, Surigao del Norte
- Intensity III – Bogo City, Cebu; Calatrava, Negros Occidental
- Intensity II – Libjo, San Jose, Cagdianao, Dinagat Islands
- Intensity I – Roxas City; La Carlota City in Negros Occidental
Click and watch this video clip showing the immediate aftermath of the quake in Kananga: