At least 28 dead as magnitude 7.2 quake hits VisMin
Quake equivalent to 32 Hiroshima atomic bombs
MANILA (10th UPDATE) - A magnitude 7.2 quake hit Bohol in Visayas on Tuesday morning, leaving scores dead and numerous prized historical structures destroyed.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said at least 28 people died in the quake, which also destroyed buildings in and around one of the Philippines' major tourist hubs.
Four people were confirmed dead at a fish market that collapsed in Cebu, the second most important city in the Philippines and a gateway to some of the country's most beautiful beaches, the local government said.
A meat vendor also died in Mandaue City, Cebu after being crushed by debris inside a public market.
Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman, meanwhile, said a 4-year-old girl died and nine others were wounded in a stampede inside a gymnasium in Pinamungahan, Cebu.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the quake occurred 2 kilometers southeast of Carmen town at 8:12 a.m. The quake, which was tectonic in origin, struck at a depth of about 33 kms.
"I was fast asleep when suddenly I woke up because my bed was shaking. I was so shocked, I could do nothing but hide under the bed," receptionist Janet Maribao, 33, told AFP.
"I was so scared, I could not even run out of the house. It was only 30 minutes later that we were able to leave the house."
Carmen town lies across a strait about 60 kilometers from Cebu. The epicenter was 629 kms from the capital, Manila.
Phivolcs said the following quake intensities were felt:
- Intensity VII (Destructive) - Tagbilaran, Bohol
- Intensity VI (Very Strong) - Hinigaran, Negros Occidental
- Intensity V (Strong) - Iloilo City; La Carlota, Negros Occidental
- Intensity IV (Moderately Strong) - Masbate City; Roxas City; San Jose, Culasi, Antique; Guihulngan, Negros Oriental
- Intensity III (Weak) - Davao City
In a press conference, Phivolcs Executive Director Renato Solidum said 110 aftershocks have been recorded as of 11 a.m.. He said aftershocks from the major quake may persist for several weeks but they are expected to diminish in intensity over time.
Solidum said the last strong quake in Bohol occurred in 1990 at magnitude 6.8. He also noted that today's 7.2.magnitude quake's energy is equivalent to about 32 Hiroshima atomic bombs.
No tsunami warning
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, meanwhile, said there was no threat of a Pacific-wide tsunami after the quake.
Solidum explained that a tsunami is unlikely to occur as the epicenter of the quake was located on land.
Solidum said Bohol is vulnerable to quakes because Carmen lies on the path of the East Bohol Fault.
"Matagal na rin nating na map out iyan at nabanggit na rin natin sa mga tao na possible talaga ang mga intensity 7 and 8 na maramadam dyan sa Bohol," Solidum told Radio dzMM.
Solidum added that fissures triggered by liquefaction may be fewer in Bohol because of its topography.
"Ito ay epekto kapag ang lupa sa kalsada ay ang foundation ay malambo. Ito ay tinatawag na liquefaction. Ang Bohol mabato kasi, karamihan dyan ay limestones kaya iyung ganong pagkalambot ng lupa ay mahirap," he said.
"Pero pagdating sa Cebu, baka may malambot na parte dyan lalo na malapit sa karagatan. Doon nagkakaroon ng amplification o paglaki pa ng pag-uga."
The major earthquake damaged several vulnerable structures including centuries-old churches in Bohol and Cebu.
ABS-CBN Bayan Patroller photos showed Bohol's Loboc, Baclayon, Dauis and Loay Churches badly damaged. Another photo showed Loon Church totally destroyed.
A separate report from Bohol Governor Edgardo Chatto said the old city hall of Tagbiliran was also damaged. Structures around the famous tourist destination Chocolate Hills were also damaged.
Several structures in Cebu, including the Gaisano Country Mall in Banilad, One Citilink Terminal, Ayala Center, Cebu Technological University, Cebu Doctor's University, and the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño were also damaged, pictures sent by ABS-CBN Bayan Patrollers show.
The quake forced the Philippine Coast Guard to suspend all sea travels to and from Cebu, Bohol and Siquijor.
Classes tomorrow, October 16, have also been suspended in Bohol and Cebu.
Operations in Tagbilaran Airport were also limited after one of its ceilings collapsed, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines. The Department of Transportation and Communications said Cebu Pacific flights 5J-617 (Manila-Tagbilaran) and 5J-618 (Tagbilaran-Manila) have been cancelled.
Power outages were also reported in the areas hit by the quake.
The Philippines lies on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a chain of islands that are prone to quakes and volcanic eruptions.
More than 100 people were left dead or missing in February last year after an earthquake struck on Negros island, about 100 kms from the epicenter of Tuesday's quake.
The deadliest recorded natural disaster in the Philippines occurred in 1976, when a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake devastated the Moro Gulf on the southern island of Mindanao.
Between 5,000 and 8,000 people were killed, according to official estimates. – reports from Dexter Ganibe, June Perez and Johnson Manabat, dzMM; Edwin Gadia, Noni Basco, Rico Lucena, Yasmin Pascual, Dormido, May May Benedicto, ABS-CBN News Regional Network Group; and Agence France-Presse