PHILIPPINES – At least six people were confirmed dead and more than 100 were injured when a magnitude 6.7 earthquake rocked Surigao City in Southern Philippines Friday night.
This was disclosed by Surigao del Norte Provincial Disaster Risk Response Management Office head, Ramon Gotinga, in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Saturday.
“Death toll as of now is six, on the damages (sustained), assessment is still ongoing,” he added.
Search and rescue operations were ongoing as of this posting as authorities received reports of collapsed houses in the said city.
The 6.7-magnitude tremor that rocked Surigao City at about 10:03 p.m. Friday also damaged the city’s airport and several buildings and structures.
Several other buildings and business establishments, among them the Gaisano Capital shopping mall, Parkway Hotel, and Absolute Essentials building, also suffered damage.
Residents also rushed to elevated areas fearing for a possible tsunami. Philippine authorities, however, said it was unlikely for a tsunami to take place.
Capt. Joe Patrick Martinez, 4th Infantry Division spokesman, said the earthquake also wrecked the bridge in Barangay Anao-aon in San Francisco, Surigao del Norte.
A power outage engulfed a large part of the city as soon as the temblor struck, then aftershocks were felt, he said.
Rescue operations by the 30th Infantry Battalion are still underway in Surigao City and other parts of Surigao del Norte as of Saturday, Martinez said.
Earthquake Shuts Down Surigao Airport
Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) issued Saturday morning a notice to airmen (NOTAM) regarding the closure of the Surigao Airport until March 10.
CAAP Area Center Xll manager Evangeline Daba said the earthquake damaged the 1,700-meter runway 18/36 of Surigao Airport. Daba added that the airport terminal, except for some broken windows and cracked tiles, had minimal damages.
She cited that PAL Express and Cebu Pacific operate daily flights to Surigao Airport from Manila.
“The nearest alternative route for passengers to reach Surigao City is to take flights to and from Butuan Airport, which is a two-hour drive by land,” CAAP said.
CAAP director general Jim Sydiongco immediately instructed Daba and the CAAP engineering team to expedite the repair and rehabilitation of the damaged portions of runway 18/36.
CAAP assured the public that it is doing its best to accelerate the repair and to put Surigao Airport back to its normal operations very soon. – BusinessNewsAsia.com with PNA