• Melo Acuna

Scores of buildings damaged by strong earthquake

Strong earthquake rocks Central Philippines

MANILA – A Magnitude 6.6 earthquake of tectonic origin shook Masbate province and nearby areas at 8:03 AM Tuesday which brought damage to [public and private properties from homes to offices to public infrastructure.

Science and Technology Undersecretary and Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology officer-in-charge Dr. Renato Solidum said it was a strong earthquake which caused a maximum reported intensity VII.

“This was caused by the movement of the Masbate segment of the Philippine Fault Zone,” Undersecretary Solidum said in a message to this writer.  He added the last strong earthquake in the area occurred on February 15,2003.

The earthquake took place a depth of seven kilometers.  

According to PHIVOLCS’ earthquake advisory, the tremor was felt as far south as Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental and Lopez, Quezon to the north.  They expect aftershocks and damage to properties.  

Meanwhile, police operatives in Cataingan town, the nearest municipality to the quake’s epicenter reported the death of a retired police officer and the inuring of a local resident.  Private and public buildings were also damaged.

Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda Acosta said an employee of the Masbate Public Attorney’s Office was injured and suffered minor bruises.

The Philippine Coast Guard in Manila reported the damage incurred by Cataingan port and had to suspend boat trips until after the declaration of the port’s safety.  It has already resumed operations early Tuesday afternoon.

An aftershock was recorded at 8:32 A.M. as a Magnitude 3.8 earthquake at 8:32 A.M.

Regional Disaster Management and Coordinating Council under retired General Clyde Yucut has already begun his aerial and on the ground assessment of the earthquakes’ damage in the province. 

Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said the Philippines has one of the strictest building codes in the region due to the natural disasters that regularly take place in the country.

Speaking at the regular press briefings at midday today, he said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council will definitely look into the compliance with the country’s National Building Code. As far as relief supplies are concerned, he added commodities have ben pre-positioned across the country and would be complemented should Masbate require more assistance.

Asked of the integrity of medical facilities in the Masbate, Health Undersecretary Leopoldo J. Vega said they have an office in the Department of Health composed of engineers and architects which attends to assessments of structural integrity of government hospitals and other health-related structures. (Melo M. Acuña)

Photos from the Philippine Red Cross, PIA Bicol, Philippine Coast Guard and Screen Grab from FEBC/RTVM)

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