MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) cancelled the tsunami alert level in 19 provinces after monitoring that the height of the waves has fallen to between 20 to 30 centimeters.
Phivolcs director Renato Solidum announced at a press conference at 11:40 p.m. Friday that the "current trend suggests that the threat of a hazardous tsunami has passed."
Although the waves are no longer life threatening, Solidum advised the public to still avoid swimming in beaches.
He also said it was still not safe for fishermen to go out to sea.
Phivolcs had monitored 70-centimeter waves in Baler, Aurora, and 44-cm waves in Davao early Friday night.
"The important thing is, hindi na po mataas ang waves at pasok na pasok sa forecasted height [of 1 meter or below]," he said.
The 19 provinces that were affected by the tsunami alert were:
- Ilocos Norte
- Camarines Norte
- Camarines Sur
- Northern Samar
- Eastern Samar
- Southern Leyte
- Surigao del Norte
- Surigao del Sur
- Davao Oriental
- Davao del Sur
After Philippine authorities raised the tsunami alert level 2 in 19 provinces, they said the tsunami waves dissipated in strength as they crossed the Pacific toward the Philippines.
At around 8 p.m., Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum told a press conference that waves could rise up to a meter or less and would hit Philippine eastern shorelines between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
The tsunami alert level 2 was a warning to residents and local leaders to heed precautionary measures and to stay away from coastal areas. A series of waves were “coming to the Philippines,” the Philvocs has warned.
President Aquino has called for calm before the tsunami waves hit the country. He was in Singapore on a state visit and was to fly home late Friday evening.
Responses from the provinces
When the tsunami alert level was raised, most of the local government of the 19 provinces immediately suspended classes and office work.
People living along shorelines were evacuated voluntarily from their homes to higher grounds.
Sea travel was not allowed.
In Batanes, the northernmost province of the country that was expected to be hit first by the tsunami, policemen used megaphones to warn people and patrol cars blared warnings.
Batanes was expected to be hit 30 minutes after the tsunami waves – which were moving at “supersonic speed” of 500 to 600 kilometers per hour – hit Taiwan.
In Camarines Sur province east of the country, fishermen from the town of Cabusao were convinced not to do any fishing for the day after they saw TV footages of how the tsunami washed away buildings, cars, a entire ship in Japan.
According to disaster officials, they noticed the the tide rise three times in 3 villages during the night.
In Legazpi City, most residents of about 127 coastal villages decided to stay the night in the evacuation centers to ensure their safety.
The series of tsunami waves started arriving on the Philippine shores at around 6 p.m. Friday.
The highest tsunami wave was 70 centimeters high (2.30 feet). It was the third of the series of waves that hit Baler, a town in Aurora province popular to surfers. It faces the Pacific Ocean.
Tsunami waves were also recorded in:
- Virac, Catanduanes (3 waves)
- Mati, Davao Oriental (2 waves)
- Davao City (2 waves)
- Legaspi (2 waves)
The lowest waves measured at 20 cm were recorded in Mati, Davao.
Before the tsunami hit the Philippines, several people witnessed the sea water receding from the shores. - with reports from ABS-CBN News reporters: Nina Corpus in Batanes, PJ dela Peña in Cagayan de Oro, Jonathan Magistrado in Naga City, Hadji Riyeta in Laoag City.