Earthquake, Tsunami Warning, Aftershocks Rock The Philippines

(Screenshot courtesy of USGS.)

John Oyewale Contributor
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A strong earthquake rocked the Philippines Saturday, triggering aftershocks and a tsunami warning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck off the southeast coast of the island of Mindanao at 10:37 p.m. (09:37 a.m. EST), per the USGS Interactive Map. The coastal municipality of Hinatuan in Surigaro del Sur Province was the closest to the epicenter of the earthquake. The earthquake’s fault waves rippled across the Philippine islands up to Cebu, about 300 miles north of Hinatuan, and General Santos City, over 200 miles southward.

There were at least four other quakes of at least 6.0 in magnitude in the Philippine Sea off the island, the USGS earthquake map showed.

The earthquakes triggered a raft of tsunami warnings, per the US Tsunami Warning System. One such warning was “for Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California.” The tsunami threat later passed.

Residents of some villages and cities in Caraga region in Mindanao reported intensity values as high as VIII (eight), according to the USGS website’s Did-You-Feel-It? (DYFI?) responses section. Shaking at that level is considered severe, able to topple monuments and chimneys and overturn heavy furniture, damage poorly built structures, and trigger a partial collapse in some ordinary buildings. (RELATED: At Least 128 Dead In Nepal Earthquake)

People were evacuated farther inland, Reuters reported. The Hinatuan local government published photos showing residents evacuating to higher ground on buses, trucks, motorcycles, and rickshaws, and others camping at a shelter. “Keep safe Hinatuanons,” partly ran an accompanying statement.

Residents who were already in bed jumped out, many suffered hyperventilation from the shaking, and some of them had to be taken to hospital, per the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Farther out northeastward in Japan, waves 1.3 feet high billowed on Hachijojima Island, about 180 miles south of Tokyo, per Reuters. Authorities ordered the evacuation of all the coastal areas and some other areas of Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

So far, there have been no reports of casualties or significant damage, per Reuters.