'Quake like 32 Hiroshima atomic bombs'
More aftershocks expected
MANILA (UPDATED) - The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) described the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Bohol a major one, similar even to the strength of 32 Hiroshima atomic bombs.
In a command conference Tuesday, Phivolcs Executive Director Renato Solidum said more aftershocks are expected, which should be a cause for concern. “As of 11:00 a.m., there were 110 aftershocks already registered.”
The strongest one recorded yet was at magnitude 5 in Tagbilaran, Bohol around 12:22 p.m.
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa said assessments are still ongoing if there is a need to declare a state of calamity in Bohol and Cebu, where major structures and tourist sites were damaged. “Nonetheless, the government will work automatically. The funds are ready. It is only just a matter of technicality if there will be a declaration.”
He asked agencies in the local governments, however, to “exercise sufficient discretion if there is a need to tell people not to go back inside structures.” He said the government can’t just ask for a mandatory evacuation.
Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman said no evacuation centers have been identified, but people on the ground are ready to put up tent cities in safe areas.
Hospitals in the areas are also on red alert.
Office of the Civil Defense spokesperson Reynaldo Balido Jr. said they have gathered information of 28 casualties, so far. This number, however, is expected to rise as more information comes in.
As of 12:30 p.m., 15 deaths were recorded in Cebu, four in Bohol, and one in Siquijor. A total of 33 have been reported injured, he added.
Three were rescued after being buried in a rubble in Basil, Cebu.
He said they have yet to consolidate a separate report given by the Department of Health, which also reported a number of deaths and injuries.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the story would have been different if today was not a holiday. “Today is a holiday, there was no convergence of crowds, particularly in churches. Had this happened on a Sunday, especially at a 8:00 a.m., it will be another story.”
Authorities have yet to estimate the cost of damage, but recorded major destruction especially in churches and ports.
Solidum reiterated there is no threat of a tsunami. He also stressed the earthquake “has no direct effect to other faults [across the country].”