MANILA — The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology on Wednesday night warned of further damage in Abra and other parts of Luzon that were jolted by the magnitude 7 earthquake earlier in the day.
Phivolcs director Usec. Renato Solidum told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo that aftershocks may cause additional damage in areas badly hit by the 8:43 a.m. tremor, the epicenter of which was traced northeast of Tayum, Abra.
"As of 7 p.m., meron na tayong naitalang 343 aftershocks. At ang pinakamataas na na-record natin ay magnitude 5.4 na nangyari kaninang 3:38 (p.m.). So, mga Intensity V ang na-record ng ating instrumento doon sa pinakamalapit sa episentro," he said.
"Malakas ito at nangangahulugan na kapag ang mga bahay ay may sira (at) hindi pa masyadong tumumba, pwede pang masira ng mga aftershock," he added.
People whose houses and offices incurred damage after the quake are advised not to occupy those until engineers have conducted their inspection.
"Kailangan ma-inspeksyon muna ng mga engineers kung structural ba, mga poste at biga ba ang damage or wall lang. Delikado kasi, kasi may aftershock pa," said Solidum.
"Kailangan maayos yung mga bahay na nasira, kung pwede pang ayusin. At kung talagang hindi at ma-condemn ay magpatayo na lang ng bago," he added.
Areas hit by landslides and cracks are also still at risk due to the destabilization of the soil, the official warned.
"Kailangan din bantayan, baka umulan, eh doble na ang problema. Napahina na ng lindol 'yung slope at uulan pa, mas malaki ang chance ng rain-triggered landslide. 'Yun po 'yung kailangan nating paghandaan," Solidum said.
Strong aftershocks may continue within two to three days since the primary earthquake, he said.
"Typically, first day marami. Second day, third day, pababa. And then unti-unti, bababa ang bilang. Magiging far between, o malayo ang pagitan ng mga lindol. Pero 'di naman tuloy-tuloy na bababa 'yan na, 'yung magnitude pababa nang pababa. May susulpot na malakas-lakas," he said.
In a press briefing earlier in the day, Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said 218 towns in 15 provinces from Regions 1, 2, and the Cordillera were affected by the temblor.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said it his received reports of five deaths due to the quake.
Office of Civil Defense deputy director for operations Bernardo Alejandro IV said that most of the damaged houses and bridges were in CAR.
Authorities in Abra also reported that several houses and structures in the province were damaged, particularly in the capital Bangued and in Lagangilang town.
Aside from Abra, damaged structures were also reported in Mountain Province and Ilocos Sur, while landslides happened in Benguet province.
The Department of Budget and Management has said the Marcos administration is ready to fund disaster relief following the quake.