By: AP, AFP, Ellalyn V. Ruiz, PNA, Restituto Cayubit, and Francis T. Wakefield
A magnitude-5.4 earthquake shook Leyte yesterday morning, the strongest aftershock of the magnitude-6.5 tremor last week that damaged a power plant and other buildings.
No damage or casualties were immediately reported after the morning earthquake.
The US Geological Survey said the moderately strong quake had an epicenter near Ormoc, a city of about 200,000 people, at 9:41 a.m. and had a relatively shallow depth of 12.7 kilometers.
Renato Solidum, head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, said the quake was strongly felt in and around Ormoc and may trigger landslides or cause more damage to already damaged structures. He said it is the strongest aftershock of the 6.5-magnitude quake on July 7.
The latest quake was felt at Intensity 6 or “very strong” in Ormoc, Intensity 5 or “strong” 5 in Kananga, Leyte, Intensity 4 or “moderately strong” in Mayorga, Leyte; Tacloban City, Leyte, and Mandaue City in Cebu;
Intensity 3 or “weak” in Loay and Jagna in Bohol and Cebu City, and Intensity 2 or “slightly felt” in Lapu-Lapu City and Cadiz City.
Solidum said the earthquake was generated by the movement of Leyte segment of the Philippine Fault Zone, which is the same fault that caused the 6.5-magnitude earthquake last week.
The July 7 earthquake left two dead, four people missing, and injured 329 in Leyte. It damaged a geothermal power plant, triggered landslides, and collapsed a building with a grocery store and other shops.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council spokesperson Romina Marasigan said 181 of the injured are from Ormoc, 68 from Kananga, 25 from Carigara, and eight from Leyte Provincial Hospital.
The earthquake caused P51,786,608.20 in damages and affected 1,837 families or 9,185 persons from 14 barangays in Leyte. Seventy three families or 365 persons are house in evacuation centers in Kananga.
Local disaster officials said 735 and 1,029 houses were partially and totally damaged. Fourteen road sections and 10 bridges in Leyte and Southern Leyte sustained damages due to the earthquake.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development has provided more than P3 million in assistance to earthquake victims.
Solidum warned that the tremor may continue to generate aftershocks “for several days to weeks, some of which may be felt.”
Large areas of Leyte, home to some 1.75 million people, and some parts of Eastern Visayas were still without electricity this week due to damage to a power plant in the province.
The 5.4-aftershock caused panic in Ormoc.
Employees and customers of business establishments immediately rushed to safety while students from the New Ormoc City National High School went to the designated evacuation area at the Ormoc City Hall.
Classes on all levels resumed afterwards but Ormoc city administrator Vincent Emnas announced that classes will be suspended and students sent home in case of strong aftershocks.