DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Disaster officials are asking the public to remain calm after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Southern Mindanao.
The quake that happened 7:37 in the evening and resulted in at least five deaths and 60 injured.
This was followed by more than 200 aftershocks and two tremors with above magnitude 5 earthquakes reported in Davao Oriental on Wednesday morning.
The earthquake occurred at 4:53 a.m., at a depth of 120 kilometers northeast of Manay town.
Tulunan, North Cotabato was identified as the epicenter of the strong quake.
Authorities identified the fatalities from Magsaysay, Davao del Sur as 22-year-old Angel Lakay and her 10-month old baby, and two-year-old Kristine Ruda – all killed by falling objects and debris during the quake.
Casualties also include at least 30 individuals injured during the strong quake.
In the border town of Tulunan in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao, a child was also reported dead.
According to Vice Mayor Maureen Villamor, the child was declared dead on arrival in Tulunan Hospital.
Another fatality is a 40-year-old resident of M’lang North Cotabato, also an adjacent town of Tulunan. Victim Tony Panangulon was declared dead on arrival after he had a heart attack during the earthquake.
Reports of the Provincial Disaster Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office of North Cotabato also confirmed that at least 17 individuals were injured in Makilala town.
Two hospitals in Kidapawan City forcibly evacuated their patients to a safer ground after the earthquake.
Other casualties include a damage bridge in Valencia Bukidnon, now passable for only light vehicles. Cor Jesu College of Digos in Davao Del Sur had cracked walls.
The authorities also reported an estimated P2 billion damage in a fire incident in Gaisano Mall Gensan after the earthquarke.
FCI Regenald Legaste of General Santos City Fire Station said they put out the fire around 12 noon. Property damage was estimated at 50 percent.
In the coastal area of Davao City, authorities reported that thousands of individuals were evacuated after the earthquake.
Rodrigo C. Bustillo, Chief Operations and Warning of the City Risk Reduction and Management Office, said the sudden evacuation was caused by the panic of people in the coastline area believing that tsunami might occur.
“There was no tsunami warning released after the earthquake. It is the task of government agencies like ours to release an advisories,” said Bustillo.
Bustillo added that some residents panicked after seeing posts on the effects of the earthquake on social media posts without proper validation.
The panicked caused heavy traffic in the Southern part of the city, he said.
Bustillo also said that some individuals took advantage of the situation to make jokes on social meria that triggered the public to leave their homes.
“We are looking into some social media posts about the fake tsunami update,” Bustillo added.
Various city governments announced the suspension of class in all levels and immediately monitored and inspected public buildings after the incident.
On Tuesday evening, North Cotabato governor Emmylou Taliño Mendoza already announced the suspension of classes in all public and private schools in the province.
Classes were also suspended in Davao City, General Santos City, and some towns in Davao del Sur and South Cotabato.(davaotoday.com)