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At least 8 dead in Batanes earthquakes

Aftershocks are felt in Batanes, as well as a stronger magnitude 5.9 earthquake 3 hours after the tremor that caused more structures to be damaged

The quakes – magnitude 5.4 and magnitude 5.9 – struck within hours of each other, according to bulletins from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs). No tsunami alerts were issued but aftershocks were expected.

Mayor Raul de Sagon told Agence France-Presse that 8 people had been killed and around 60 others were hurt. The extent of their injuries was not immediately clear.

In a statement late Saturday morning, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) placed the number of dead at 6 – 5 from the first earthquake and another one from the stronger earthquake.

The first earthquake, which was tectonic in origin, struck east of Itbayat at a depth of 12 kilometers at 4:16 am – around the same time that Metro Manila authorities conducted the annual earthquake drill.

The following intensities were felt:

  • Intensity VI - Itbayat, Batanes
  • Intensity III - Basco and Sabtang, Batanes

Instrumental Intensity:

  • Intensity III - Basco, Batanes

There were aftershocks recorded, as well as a stronger magnitude 5.9 earthquake past 7 am, which struck east of Itbayat and registered stronger intensities.

The following intensities were felt in relation to the 7:37 am earthquake:

  • Intensity VII in Itbayat, Batanes
  • Intensity IV- Basco, Batanes

Instrumental Intensity:

  • Intensity IV- Basco, Batanes

Phivolcs' initial bulletin placed the 7:37 am earthquake at magnitude 6.4 but later amended this to magnitude 5.9.

Another magnitude 5.4 earthquake east of Itbayat was recorded at 9:24 am.

'People were asleep'

Police Sergeant Uzi Villa said the timing of the quake meant many people were at home when the first quake struck.

Terrified residents fled their homes as the quake caused thick stone walls to collapse. Some paved were also cracked.

Many people were still asleep when the first tremor struck around 4:15 am, followed less than 4 hours later by the second stronger jolt.

"We saw houses shaking. Some of the walls of the houses collapsed and fell on the victims," he told AFP.

"Some people died because they were sleeping soundly since it was still early," he added.

Government response

The NDRRMC said that the Office of Civil Defense Administrator Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad and OCD Operations Service Director Harold Cabreros had a video teleconference with the Regional DRRM Council of Region 2 to monitor the situation.

"OCD is also coordinating with the AFP and the DOH for the immediate dispatch of medical and rescue teams," it added.

Malacañang said in a statement past noon that President Rodrigo Duterte had been briefed about the situation and that the Office of the President was close monitoring other developments in Batanes following the tremor.

"The President...directed all agencies to respond and undertake measures to provide assistance to the victims of this force majeure and rehabilitate the damaged properties in the areas," said Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo, adding that"relief operations are going on and in full swing.""

"We ask affected constituents to remain calm as we urge them to remain vigilant and cooperative to government response and relief teams," he added. 




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