MANILA, Philippines - The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) commended the quick reaction of people living along the coastal areas affected by the 7.6 quake on Friday night.
Although many residents initially panicked, NDRRMC Executive Director Benito Ramos said they immediately evacuated their homes without waiting for official word from concerned government agencies.
"Maganda yung reaction ng mga tao kagabi, wala pa yung anunsiyo na level 3 umakyat na sila sa bundok," said Ramos in an interview with dzMM.
Some residents in Eastern Visayas brought their families, some personal items and livestock to higher grounds like the city hall of Tacloban in Kanhuraw Hill. Others stayed along the roads just outside their homes.
Several patients of a private hospital in Tacloban City were seen outside the medical facility.
Highest tsunami alert
On Saturday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) lifted the tsunami alert level 3 at 12:10 a.m. and advised residents to return to their homes with caution.
The alert level was raised shortly after the earthquake at 8:47 p.m. Friday, after which authorities urged residents in the coastal areas of Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte , Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur to immediately evacuate.
“Yung nakita namin hindi naging life threatening yung tsunami. Ine-expect namin baka malaki. As standard operating procedure, nag issue tayo ng Tsunami alert number 3,” said Director Renato Solidum of Phivolcs.
Phivolcs said tsunami waves ranging from 16 to 19 centimeters were recorded in Surigao City and three centimeters in Legaspi and Davao. No more than half-a-meter waves hit Pilar, Surigao del Norte in Siargao Island .
Ramos, meanwhile, said some residents have returned home but others opted to stay in evacuation centers.
"Kakaunti na lang ito. Nininerbiyos pa din. Merong aftershocks sa report ng Philvolcs umaabot ito sa 139," he said.
Minimal damage, 1 dead
Based on the initial reports that reached the NDRRMC, Ramos said the earthquake caused minimal damage.
"Very minimal ang epekto sa Samar, Leyte hanggang sa Surigao. Isang tulay doon sa munisipyo ng Mercedes, Eastern Samar partially damaged...light vehicles lang ang makakadaan," said Ramos.
Ramos said personnel of the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) are now repairing the damaged portion of the bridge.
"Sa municipality of Oras sa Eastern Samar, yung gymnasium nila doon may maliit na crack, minimal ito. Wala naman itong naitalang casualties maliban sa kagabi sa Cagayan de Oro," Ramos said.
The NDRRMC head was referring to a landslide that killed Emilita Ubalde in Barangay Lapasan.
Adrian Ubalde, 5, was also injured in the incident.
The quake also triggered a flashflood in Barangay Tablon damaging seven houses.
Several establishments also sustained minor wall cracks.
Early reports said the approach to the Catarman Bridge in Catarman in Northern Samar was also damaged, but remains passable. The Sulat Bridge and Layug Bridge in Eastern Samar are likewise passable despite minor damage.
"Kasalukuyang yung ating municipal engineers at DPWH kasama ang Office of Civil Defense, naga-assess na sila ngayon," he said.
The quake also briefly cut power supply in all parts of Eastern Visayas .
In Bacolod City , employees of a call center company left their work stations at the 7th floor of a building when they felt the quake. Intensity 2 was felt in the city.
The management said they temporarily stopped their operations for the security of their employees.
But when their engineer found no cracks or damage to the building, employees were allowed to return to work.
Patrollers send photos
Meanwhile, Bayan Patrollers also helped show the extent of damage caused by the quake in the provinces by submitting photos.
The photos taken by Bayan Patroller John Mark Valcurza of Surigao City showed major cracks on the wall and the tiled floor in their office.
Another photo taken by Leomel Plana Puerto and posted on the Twitter Page of Mars Magdael showed cracks on the floor of Abreeza Mall in Davao.
Phivolcs said the 7.6 magnitude quake that hit Eastern Samar was tectonic in origin.
Intensity VII was felt in Guiuan, Oras, Sulat, Gen. MacArthur, Llorente, Eastern Samar, Borongan City ; Tacloban City while intensity VI was experienced in San Julian, Eastern Samar; Palo, Leyte; Siargo Island , Surigao del Norte.