On Monday, another earthquake struck Asia, this time in the central Philippines. The 6.8 earthquake took seven lives and brought over forty aftershocks causing a local tsunami alert.
For the Philippines, earthquakes remain common news, given its position in the Pacific Ring of Fire and thus its vulnerability to volcanic eruptions and tremors. But, as much as people are used with having the ground shake beneath their feet, every now and then some quakes get so big they remind them of the 1990 disaster when more than 1,600 died. Also, the more recent quake and tsunami in Japan also gives them good reasons to flee their homes when windows shatter.
This time, the 6.8 Philippines earthquake did not cause massive destruction but it did take seven lives, including two children. Reuters writes that officials reported a grade six child died after being saved from a collapsed chapel wall. Another nine year old child died when the concrete wall of a school collapsed.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake was centered 44 miles north of Dumaguete city in the Negros province and hit a 29 miles depth.
Head of the Office of Civil Defense, Benito Ramos, said the epicenter was closest to Tayansan, a town on the coast of the Negros Oriental province. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology issued a tsunami alert for central islands, releasing estimates for a 1 meter wave that could hit the eastern coast of the island. As a result, about 32,000 people fled the area.
Edward Carranza, police chief in Negros Oriental, told Associated Press, the quake caused damages to a lot of houses in Guihulngan. A public market collapsed and a bridge in the city suffered damages. In several places, power and telecommunications were out. Carranza added that when the tremor started policemen rushed out of the building fearing it will collapse.
A spokesman for the president said: “While the threat of immediate danger appears to have passed, we urge the people in affected areas to remain watchful and calm and to cooperate with the authorities”.
Negros Oriental Governor, Roel Degamo, asked “people to return to their homes and stay calm”. He also urged the president for help, since the province is still recovering from the Typhoon Sending that hit the area in December.