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Tayasan town, Negros Occidental2 kids among dead after 6.9 temblor strikes Western Visayas

A MAGNITUDE 6.9 earthquake rocked Western Visayas before noon yesterday leaving several people dead including two schoolchildren, reports said.

Anafe Estrabella, a Grade 6 pupil from Barangay Mompong in Jimalalud, Negros Oriental, was killed when the wall of a chapel collapsed and fell on her. She died while being taken to a local hospital.

The other victim was identified as Bernadeth Raidan, 9, a pupil of Matuog Elementary School also in Negros Oriental. Like Estrabella, Raidan was trapped under the rubble of the wall of her school which collapsed at the height of the temblor.   

The earthquake triggered landslides in a town and city in Negros Oriental.

The mayor of Guinhulgan City said 10 persons were confirmed dead in a landslide that buried 30 houses. At least 29 others are missing, Mayor Ernesto Reyes said.

Two schools and a market were destroyed, he added

Police Regional Office 7 director Chief Superintendent Marcelo P. Garbo said that in Guilhungan City in Negros Oriental, buildings and houses were damaged and cracks on the roads were discovered in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Garbo said the local police force established an immediate evacuation center in the area and sent policemen to conduct search-and-rescue operations.

In Jimalalud,  bridges and roads were damaged while in La Libertad, the tremor brought down a 3-storey building and surge of water destroyed five cottages at the Comendador Beach Resort.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) immediately issued a Tsunami Alert level 2 warning although the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no danger of a widespread destructive tsunami.

In raising a level 2 tsunami warning, Phivolcs asked the public to stay away from beaches and “be watchful” for any signs of rising tides.

Level 2 does not warrant any evacuation.

In a bulletin, Phivolcs said that the quake was recorded around 11:49 a.m. 72 kilometers north of Dumaguete in Negros Occidental with a depth of 10 kilometers and tectonic in origin.

Intensity VII was felt in Dumaguete City while intensity VI was felt in La Carlota City and La Castellana in Negros Occidental and intensity V was recorded in Roxas City, Dao and Ivisan, Capiz and Iloilo City.

Intensity IV was also felt in San Jose de Buenvista and Pandan in Antique; Ayungan, Negros Oriental; Kalibo, Aklan; Sagay, Negros Occidental and Dipolog City while intensity III was felt in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte; Legaspi City, Albay; Carmen, Cagayan de Oro and intensity II was felt in Cabid-an, Sorsogon.

Phivolcs also recorded four aftershocks.

Cebu rocks

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council executive director Benito Ramos said the violent shaking of buildings in Cebu city — roughly 50 kilometres from where the quake struck — led to broken windows and cracks on some walls, but no high rises were believed to have sustained major damage.

Philippine seismologists and local residents said there was panic in Cebu, the country’s second biggest city with at least 2.3 million people — but no immediate reports of casualties or major damage.

“I was having lunch when the ground shook. Water spilled from glasses and plates clanked. Some of the diners rushed outside, some of us stayed underneath the tables,” Pedro Baldomino, a student in Cebu, told AFP by telephone.

He said he saw many office workers in downtown Cebu leaving their buildings after a public announcement on radio warned people to brace for expected aftershocks.

Rumors spreading in mobile phone text messages of a huge tsunami swamping coastal areas in parts of Cebu, a popular destination for foreign scuba enthusiasts, added to the confusion, as officials appealed for calm.

“There are news going around of tsunami waves, so we are doing our best to keep everybody calm,” Barbi Patino, a spokesman for the 17-story Parklane International Hotel told AFP.

“We are completely safe inside the hotel, but we could see  people on the streets now rushing away from the area.”

Ramos said many tourists in hotels around Cebu rushed to the higher floors, but order was later restored.

He said there was no need to reinforce emergency crews in Negros and Cebu because it appeared the damage was not widespread.

“Windows were broken and one small mall in Negros had cracks on its walls, but it wasn’t that destructive,” Ramos said, adding that it was felt in varying intensities in both islands.

“We are expecting aftershocks, but we have already advised the public about these,” he said.

He also said that, apart from the lone fatality, there were no other immediate reports of injuries or casualties.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no danger of a widespread destructive tsunami.

Phivolcs initially raised its tsunami warning to the second of a three-stop alert level for coastal areas in Negros, meaning the public is asked to stay away from beaches and “be watchful” for any signs of rising tides.

However level two does not warrant any evacuation, and the alert was later lifted.

Ramos said the chances of a tsunami or a tidal wave were very slim because the quake’s epicentre was located on a narrow strait between two islands.          With AFP

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