The Philippines has been jolted by a powerful 6.6 magnitude earthquake, followed by no less than 14 aftershocks of magnitudes ranging from 3 to 5.6. The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre reported these geological disturbances, which have resulted in at least two fatalities since they began on December 2nd.
Aftershocks Rattle the Philippines
With the epicentre located northeast of the Hinatuan municipality on Mindanao island, the 6.6 magnitude earthquake struck at around 6:36pm (1036 GMT). Thereafter, the region experienced a series of aftershocks. This seismic activity has been particularly unsettling, occurring a day after a stronger quake hit the same region, which took two lives and prompted tsunami alerts.
These recent quakes come on the heels of a 6.7 magnitude quake that hit Mindanao just two weeks prior. That incident was accompanied by substantial damage, including a partial ceiling collapse in a shopping centre. However, the disaster risk reduction and management council has not reported any significant damage to buildings or infrastructure due to the latest earthquakes and aftershocks.
Residents Scramble as Tsunami Fears Loom
The powerful quakes and subsequent aftershocks have triggered fears of possible tsunamis. A magnitude 7.6 earthquake that hit the southern Philippines on Saturday led to predictions of waves over one metre above normal tides. This prospect set off alarms in Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental provinces, prompting advisories for residents to evacuate to higher ground or further inland.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre initially issued tsunami warnings after the 7.6 magnitude quake on Saturday, but these were later dropped. Nonetheless, the tremors sent thousands of residents scrambling from their homes in panic, causing traffic jams as people sought safety on higher ground.
Human Impact of the Seismic Activity
The earthquakes and aftershocks have claimed the lives of at least two individuals thus far. Several others have suffered injuries as people rushed out of their homes and jammed roads in an attempt to reach safer areas. Photos posted on the Facebook account of Hinatuan town in Surigao del Sur province show residents fleeing on foot or using various modes of transportation, including cars, trucks, motorcycles, and tricycle taxis.
Despite the fear and disruption caused by these geological disturbances, the resilience of the local population is evident. Amid the aftershocks and tsunami scares, the people of the Philippines continue to manage the situation, emphasising their strength and adaptability in the face of adversity.