Magnitude 6.9 Earthquake latest to rattle southern Philippines

A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck off the coast of the southern Philippines on early Monday (Dec 4), the latest in a slew of strong quakes all concentrated in the same area. Monday’s quake hit just before 4am local time, at a depth of 30km, some 72km northeast of Hinatuan municipality on Mindanao island. That followed a magnitude 6.6 earthquake on Sunday and a deadly magnitude 7.6 quake on Saturday in the same region, which had briefly triggered a tsunami alert.

At least two people were killed and several were injured after Saturday’s quake in the Philippines. It was followed by a series of aftershocks of magnitudes exceeding 6.0 through Sunday. The quake was brief, it lasted around six seconds, but the shaking was quite strong. The other night people panicked. But this morning, since they have experienced a similar quake already, they calmly went out of their houses and stayed outdoors for around an hour.

Sunday evening’s quake in the Philippines sent people rushing out of their homes again. They were panicking due to the memory of the previous night’s quake. Police were checking for any further damage or casualties. Saturday’s quake triggered tsunami warnings across the Pacific region and sent residents along the east coast of Mindanao fleeing buildings, evacuating a hospital and seeking higher ground.

Some walls and roads cracked while a number of flimsy homes crumpled and the roof of an outdoor court collapsed, but there have been no reports of major damage in the Philippines so far.

A 30-year-old man died in Bislig City, in Surigao del Sur province, Philippines, when a wall inside his house fell on top of him. A pregnant woman was killed in Tagum city in Davao del Norte province. Two people suffered minor injuries from falling debris in Tandag City, about 100 kilometres north of Bislig. The Philippine seismology institute initially warned of a “destructive tsunami” after the first quake Saturday, expecting “life threatening” waves, though none occurred and the warning later ended.

Small swells were reported as far away as Japan’s eastern Pacific coast, where a tsunami warning was also briefly in effect. Palau, a western Pacific archipelago located about 900km off Mindanao, reported no impact. The recent temblors came some two weeks after a 6.7 magnitude quake hit Mindanao, killing at least nine people, shaking buildings and causing part of a shopping mall ceiling to collapse.

Most are too weak to be felt by humans. Workers, residents, and students evacuated buildings in the Philippine capital Manila on Tuesday after an earthquake of magnitude 5.9 struck off the main Luzon island. There were no immediate reports of casualties, damage was not expected, but warned of aftershocks. It recorded the offshore earthquake at magnitude 5.9, with a depth of 49.09 miles.

Its epicenter was around 130 km from the capital region.

The locals felt the strong and lengthy tremor and rushed outdoors even while the building was shaking. Students also evacuated universities. The transportation ministry stopped train operations in the capital. No damage was observed on the runway, taxiway pavements, and terminal facilities. The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre had earlier recorded the quake at magnitude 6.2 before downgrading to 6.0.

Earthquakes are a daily occurrence in the Philippines, which sits along the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic and volcanic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin, a belt of volcanoes circling the Pacific Ocean that is prone to seismic activity. Three people died from a magnitude 7.4 earthquake that struck the southern Philippines on Saturday night. It was followed by more than 2,000 aftershocks that prompted thousands to stay in evacuation centers.

A separate magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck Mindanao early Monday morning.