Sarangani villagers told to evacuate after quake spawns large fissures

Dennis Datu, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 21 2023 12:17 AM | Updated as of Nov 21 2023 12:19 AM

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Residents of Barangay Mudan in Glan, Sarangani Province were advised by local authorities to evacuate after the discovery of numerous, large cracks on the ground following a magnitude 6.8 earthquake.

Fear has gripped residents, especially after two individuals, a mother and child, were reported dead in their village after being buried in a landslide.

An ABS-CBN News team, accompanied by some residents, embarked on a two-hour trek to reach Sitio Malipayon, where numerous cracks on the mountain can be seen.

In one area, a massive and lengthy crack resembling a wide gorge can be seen on the ground.

The extent of these cracks has yet to be measured.

Some have triggered landslides.

Coconut trees, which serve as a source of livelihood for residents, have been swallowed up by the ground.

In another part of the mountain, the ground has opened up and risen.

There are several long cracks that extend toward the huts used by coconut farmers.

However, there are reportedly even larger cracks in other parts of the mountain in Sitio Mabuhay, although the ABS-CBN News team did not reach these areas due to the four-hour hike required to get there.

According to witnesses who made it to the area, there are significant cracks on the ground.

Residents fear that the mountain could collapse, in the event of more strong earthquakes or heavy rainfall.

Resident Jessa Joyce Pamugas expressed concern, saying, "baka kapag lalakas ang ulan lalambot ang lupa dito babagsakan sa amin."

"Siguro mag-evacuate muna sa safe siguro sa Poblacion area kasi yung barangay naming napapaligiran ng bundok,” she added.

Those living near the river are also anxious, as the cracks extend into their homes.

Charmane Pinonggan's house was almost split in half due to cracks on the walls and flooring.

She is worried that their house will collapse completely if another earthquake hits.

"Lalo na kapag gabi kasi hindi namin alam kung babalik pa yung lindol kasi yung bahay naming nahahati talaga kaya pag gabi hindi kami palagi natutulog. Kapag lilikas kami saan naman po kami matutulog, wala na kami pupuntahan," Charmane said.

According to Sarangani local disaster response head Rene Punzalan, the large cracks on the ground in Barangay Mudan are a result of liquefaction.

Before the magnitude 6.8 earthquake occurred on Friday, Sarangani experienced heavy rainfall, causing the ground to soften and create holes. When the earthquake hit, it led to the formation of fissures.

"Dahil sa tubig na napondo sa lupa, medyo malambot ang lupa noong naglindol, nagkaroon ng liquefaction na tinatawag kapag gumalaw ang plates sa ilalim, naggagalawan din ang ating lupa, may tumaas, may bumaba kaya makikita natin lumayo na ng ilang distansya ang pagbuka ng lupa sa Mudan,” Punzalan explained.

Punzalan has ordered residents living near the fissures to evacuate and has prohibited them from approaching the area.

"Evacuate nila ang kanilang mga tahanan doon kasi we don’t expect na hindi na maulit, may aftershocks plus may localized thunderstorms, kung bigla na naman umulan mas grabe pa ang mangyaring pagguho," official added.

The PDRRMO Sarangani requested Phivolcs and DENR-MGB to conduct assessments in the area.