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6 dead, 126 others wounded, as 6.7 magnitude quake shuts down Surigao

A vehicle is parked outside a damaged building the morning after the 6.7 magnitude quake that struck Surigao City late Friday, killing four and injuring scores of people, shutting down the airport and cutting off bridges. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

(UPDATE 4 - 8:16 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines - At least six people died and 126 others were wounded, 13 seriously, when a 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck Surigao City late Friday, shutting down the airport and knocking power in two towns, the provincial governor said.

Gov. Sol Matugas said engineering teams were scrambling to fix alternative routes as three bridges were also damaged, and worried that the province had been cut off by the damage to the airport runway, which forced its closure to commercial planes.

Two flights from Manila head for Surigao and back daily, by Cebu Pacific and PAL Express.

Matugas confirmed only helicopters can land at Surigao airport.

The provincial capitol was partly damaged, with a portion of the ceiling collapsed.

Four people were dead on arrival in hospital, and 81 rushed to emergency rooms, of whom 13 were admitted for serious injuries, Matugas earlier told DZMM.

No missing persons were reported, she added. A few people are in evacuation centers, and some opted to seek shelter in other homes in other places.

Toll rising - PDRRMO

The death toll in the 6.7-magnitude quake that struck Surigao City Friday night has climbed to six, and 126 have been listed as wounded, up from 81, Surigao del Norte Provincial Disaster Risk Response Management Office head, Ramon Gotinga, said in an update to the government's Philippine News Agency (PNA) Saturday.

"Death toll as of now is six, on the damages (sustained), assessment is still ongoing," he added.

"Number of wounded as of now is at 126," he added.

The 6.7-magnitude tremor that rocked Surigao City at about 10:03 p.m. Friday also damaged the city's airport and several buildings and structures.

Several other buildings and business establishments, among them the Gaisano Capital shopping mall, Parkway Hotel, and Absolute Essentials building, also suffered damage.

Partial damage was observed at the Surigao State College of Technology, Palma store, parts of the road in Barangay Rizal, and parts of the National Highway in Barangay Luna.

Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, 4th Infantry Division spokesman, said the earthquake also wrecked the bridge in Barangay Anao-aon in San Francisco, Surigao del Norte.

A power outage engulfed a large part of the city as soon as the temblor struck, then aftershocks were felt, he said.

Rescue operations by the 30th Infantry Battalion are still under way in Surigao City and other parts of Surigao del Norte as of Saturday, Martinez said.

The Region 13 office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) reported initially that seven road sections sustained damaged, of which three are passable to all types of vehicles and four are passable to light vehicles only.

The respective DPWH District Engineering Offices installed warning signs and deployed personnel and equipment to conduct clearing operations and placement of filling materials on bridge approaches.

The Surigao-Agusan Section and Surigao-Ipil-Lipata Section of Daang Maharlika Road sustained "cracks/buckling/blowup of concrete/asphalt pavement".

Malico Bridge suffered "depressed approach slab/damaged concrete railings."

Kinabutan I Bridge and Kinabutan Bridge II had "cracks/buckling/pop-up of Steel Plate and damaged concrete railing."

Friendship Bridge on the Surigao-San Juan Coastal Road suffered "settlement of approach due to damaged slope protection as well as "cracks on girder."

Banahaw Bidge had "damaged slope protection."

Other national roads with damaged sections included the Surigao-Davao Coastal Road, Magpayang-Mainit Wharf Road, Surigao-San Juan Coastal Road and Surigao Wharf Road.

Airport 'a lifeline'

Governor Matugas appealed for help in fixing the airport, "because that's our lifeline" to getting help from the national government and private parties wishing to help.

Three bridges were cut in Surigao del Norte province and these are lifelines to northern towns; hence, city engineers were moving quickly to provide detours.

The earthquake happened at exactly 10:03 p.m. Friday, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

Assorted damage

Besides the serious damage to the airport and Surigao City Hall, assorted damage was reported in Surigao City and nearby areas.

Minor damage was reported in Mainit town in the province.

Portions of the Surigao Trade School also bore damage, along with several houses in Surigao City.

Initial reports indicated that the quake also caused the vital Ana-aon Bridge in San Francisco town to collapse, with some roads reported partly damaged.

Collapsed houses and walls were also reported in Barangays Baya-ag and Biabid in Sison town.

NDRRMC spokesperson Mina Marasigan said the agency continued to monitor closely the aftermath, keeping an eye out for other casualties and infrastructure damage. 

All LGUs have pre-positioned goods and other equipment to deal with disasters, but the NDRRMC is ready to assist Surigao's local authorities whenever needed.

89 aftershocks, more possible: Phivolcs

Renato Solidum, Phivolcs head, said on radio on Saturday morning 89 aftershocks had been recorded and more could be expected but they were unlikely to cause significant damage.

Friday's quake was the strongest since the city was rocked by a 6.9 quake in 1879, Solidum said.

People rushed to open spaces and spent the night in parks and shelter areas, according to radio reports.

More aftershocks can occur in the aftermath of the earthquake near Surigao del Norte province's Surigao City.

"Such aftershocks are still possible due to the magnitude and depth of the earthquake that struck late Friday night below waters bordering Surigao City," said science research assistant, Paulo Sawi, of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

He said Phivolcs already recorded, as of 5 a.m. Saturday, 89 aftershocks from the earthquake of tectonic origin.

Those aftershocks' magnitudes ranged from 2.0 to 3.9, he noted.

Latest Phivolcs data show the 10:03 p.m. earthquake struck 14 km. north, 78 degrees west of Surigao City at a depth of 11 km.

Phivolcs said the earthquake was felt at intensity 6 in Surigao City and Pintuyan, Southern Leyte; intensity 5 in Mandaue City, San Ricardo, Limasawa and San Francisco, Southern Leyte; intensity 4 in Hinunangan, Southern Leyte and Butuan City; intensity 3 in Hibok-Hibok, Camiguin, Tolosa and Tacloban, Leyte, Bislig City, Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental, and intensity 2 in Cagayan de Oro City, Talocogon City, Agusan del Sur, Dumaguete City and Cebu City.

"The earthquake struck at a shallow depth only, so this tremblor was felt even in communities already far from its epicenter," said Sawi.

Intensity 6 means people felt the quake as "strong", noted Phivolcs.

Phivolcs added that intensity 2 indicates people just "slightly felt" the earthquake.

Tsunami jitters

Thousands of residents in Surigao City panicked over rumors that the sea level was rising, which prompted them to seek higher ground at the provincial capitol building.

The area's police chief Senior Superintendent Anthony Maghari told radio station DZMM that he saw a school house had collapsed and that many other buildings had developed cracks.

He added the city was suffering from a power outage and that police were checking for any casualties.

According to the the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the quake struck at a depth of 27 kilometers (around 17 miles) in Mindanao, more than 700 kilometers southeast of the capital Manila.

The USGS earlier said the quake struck at about 2 km southwest of Talisay in Surigao City.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no tsunami threat from the quake. with reports by Erwin Mascarinas, Tricia Aquino, PNA, Reuters, Agence France-Presse

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