MANILA, Philippines – Over a hundred aftershocks have been recorded following the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck off Eastern Samar on Friday evening, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
“As of 8 a.m. this morning, around 153 aftershocks were recorded,” Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum told ANC on Saturday.
Solidum said the aftershocks were not felt in Samar or in Siargao Island because of the epicenter’s distance from the nearest land area.
“This earthquake did not really cause significant damage,” he said.
The 7.6 quake hit Guiuan, Eastern Samar at 8:47 p.m. Phivolcs recorded intensity VII in Guiuan, Oras, Sulat, Gen. MacArthur, Llorente, Eastern Samar; Borongan City; and Tacloban City; and intensity VI in San Julian, Eastern Samar; Palo, Leyte; and Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte.
But heavy destruction could have happened if the earthquake occurred on land, he said.
Solidum compared Friday’s quake with the one experienced in Luzon in 1990, and the recent event in Negros.
“The latest magnitude that we calculated for last night’s event is 7.6. In 1990, a 7.8 earthquake occurred on land in Luzon Island and the intensity that was felt was at maximum of Intensity 8,” he said.
Phivolcs describes Intensity 8 as “very destructive” with people finding it difficult to stand and more buildings will collapse.
“This earthquake last night only triggered up to intensity 7 simply because of the distance. In Negros, magnitude 6.9, much lower than 7.6, caused intensity 8 earthquake in eastern side of Negros island in Negros Oriental. It also caused a lot of building collapse and landslides.”
“If this happened on land, we could have several building collapses and landslides for example, in Samar island,” he said.
Solidum said that Friday’s experience should serve as a reminder to the public that earthquakes, and tsunamis that can be generated from it, are “rapid onset events”.
“We need to prepare in advance so that when strong earthquakes occur like what happened last night, we are better prepared,” he said.
He also said that houses and infrastructures must be built properly and people need to fully be aware of what to do during earthquakes by taking earthquake drills seriously and continuously.
He added the estimated 10 million people living along coastal areas needs to undergo tsunami preparedness as well.
“Unfortunately, earthquake and tsunamis do not occur as frequently as typhoons and floods so that people tend to less prepare for these events rather than the frequently occurring typhoons,” he said. -- With Dateline Philippines