News / Asia

Magnitude 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Philippines

  • A view of the destroyed St. Michael Parish church in Clarin, Bohol a day after an earthquake hit, central Philippines, Oct. 16, 2013.
  • Residents walk on a damaged highway at Loboc township, Bohol province in central Philippines, Oct. 16, 2013.
  • Residents stay in makeshift shelters near the rubble of the centuries-old Our Lady of Light church in Loon, Bohol, a day after an earthquake, Philippines, Oct. 16, 2013.
  • Members of the Philippine Coast Guard carry sacks filled with relief goods to load on-board the BRP Corregidor at a port in Manila, Oct. 16, 2013.
  • A view of the damaged Basilica Minore of Sto Nino de Cebu church after an earthquake struck Cebu city, in central Philippines, Oct. 15, 2013.
  • Rescue members recover the body of a vendor killed after an earthquake hit Pasil market in Cebu, central Philippines, Oct. 15, 2013.
  • Firefighters stand near damaged vehicles after an earthquake struck Cebu city, in central Philippines, Oct. 15, 2013.
  • Earthquake victims gather at the parking lot of a government hospital following a quake that hit Cebu city in central Philippines, Oct. 15, 2013.
  • Hospital patients rest after they were evacuated after an earthquake struck Cebu city, in central Philippines, Oct. 15, 2013.
  • People walk near the damaged Loboc church, Bohol, Phillippines, Oct. 15, 2013. (Picture courtesy of Robert Michael Poole)
Simone Orendain
A 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the Central Philippines Tuesday morning, killing at least 107 people and wounding hundreds more in a popular tourist region.  Centuries-old structures were damaged. 
 
The central part of the country, called the Visayas, is made up of more than a dozen islands and Civil Defense officials say most of the initially reported deaths were in Cebu City. The city is a short boat ride from Bohol Island, a popular tourist destination, where the quake struck. They say they expect the number of casualties to increase as more local governments report damage. Most of the casualties are expected to come from urban areas.
 
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In Manila, the chairman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, told reporters it was likely there were no immediate reports of mass casualties because Tuesday was a national holiday.
 
“There is no convergence of crowds, particularly in the churches that collapsed.  Had this happened on a Sunday, especially the time was 8:00, then this [would be] another story,” said Gazmin. 
 
An official with the Department of Health told the council there were additional deaths and injuries that the council said it would confirm. 
 
Director Carmencita Banatin said all government hospitals in the worst hit region were on high alert and that there were “still a lot [of injured people] coming in” to hospitals in Bohol. Hundreds of powerful aftershocks forced many to sleep outdoors on Tuesday night, including patients at some hospitals.
 
The earthquake broke off the bell tower of one of the country’s oldest churches, the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu, the current structure of which was built in 1735. Social media photos posted by nearby residents showed several other centuries-old churches in Bohol and Cebu had walls and sections reduced to rubble. 
 
Other buildings in the area partially collapsed, including Cebu City Hall, while major bridges and some roads were broken.  The Mactan-Cebu airport suffered cracks in the ceiling and was temporarily closed with some flights canceled. 
 
Military officials told the council they had pooled personnel whose expertise was in structural damage to help with search and rescue operations.
 
The department of social welfare reported two incidences of people panicking when the ground shook while they waited in line to receive their regular government stipends.  Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said in one town, the panic caused a stampede that left a four year old dead when she was separated from her mother.
 
Institute of Volcanology and Seismology Director Renato Solidum did not issue a tsunami warning because he said the quake’s epicenter was on land.  In a mixture of Filipino and English he told reporters the quake happened on a shorter fault line and that it was not near any other fault lines.
 
“Just remember that faults in the Philippines move on their own.  So it might happen that there could be one that moves.  So we just need to be prepared always,” said Solidum.
 
Solidum also said the worst of the aftershocks, which he did not expect to be stronger than magnitude 4.5, would occur over the next two days.
 
The Philippine islands are mostly comprised of two major volcanoes, making the country prone to earthquakes.  It lies on what is known as the Pacific “Rim of Fire.”

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Keen from: Philippines
October 16, 2013 11:25 AM
In this time of darkness, we FILIPINOS should unite and face our great adversary...This is just yet another challenge to test the strength of our FAITH..I am personally thankful for the millions of lives spared and for those who haven't made it, let's us pray for their souls...

by: van from: philippines
October 16, 2013 8:09 AM
Thanks for the prayers. It really helps a lot. May this calamity lead us closer to the Lord.

by: anna jacqueline
October 15, 2013 10:03 AM
Let's all pray together for the Philippines.

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