A powerful earthquake struck the southern Philippines, causing panic and leading to the evacuation of thousands of residents following a tsunami warning. The quake, with a magnitude of 7.6 as reported by the U.S. Geological Survey, occurred at a depth of 32 kilometers (20 miles). Initially, there were concerns about potential tsunami waves affecting parts of the Philippines, Indonesia, Palau, and Malaysia, but the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center later canceled the warning.
Tragically, one villager lost their life, and several individuals sustained injuries during the tremor. In Tagum city, a pregnant woman died after being struck by a collapsing concrete wall as she, along with her family, rushed out of their home to seek safety. Additionally, other families faced terrifying moments, with some fleeing from their houses in panic, resulting in injuries. Fortunately, many residents in Tagum had participated in regular earthquake drills, which were credited with possibly averting more casualties.
The quake’s impact extended beyond injuries and casualties. Hundreds of patients from a hospital in Tagum were evacuated temporarily, but later returned after the building was inspected and deemed safe. Throughout the affected areas, residents stayed outdoors for hours, seeking safety from both the earthquake and the potential tsunami, even enduring heavy rainfall in some places.
Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. reported that while there were pockets of power outages and damages to a few bridges, overall, the damage seemed limited. Civil aviation authorities also confirmed no major disruptions or damages at several airports in the south following thorough inspections.
The earthquake and subsequent warnings prompted swift actions from authorities, advising immediate evacuations along the coastlines near the epicenter. Residents were seen fleeing to higher ground in various means of transportation, as depicted in images from Hinatuan town in Surigao del Sur province.
Despite the initial chaos and fear, many villagers who sought refuge in evacuation centers eventually returned home after assessments confirmed no immediate threats. While the Philippines frequently experiences seismic activities due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” and faces multiple natural disasters yearly, swift responses and adherence to safety protocols played a significant role in mitigating the impact of this recent earthquake.