northern mindanao

8 still missing in quake-hit Makilala town

November 4, 2019

Eight persons in quake-hit Makilala have remained missing as of Monday noon, four days after the October 31 Magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck the area, an official said. Board member Joemar Cerebo, spokesperson of the Cotabato emergency operations center, said in a telephone interview that rescuers are still searching for the missing persons as the death toll in the province since the October 16 6.3-magtinute quake reached 17. Magnitudes 6.6 and 6.1 also struck on October 29 and two days later, Magnitude 6.5, all epicenters in North Cotabato. Four of the missing individuals from Barangay Bato were identified as Renante Nudalo, Gace Nudalo, Freddie Bago and Jhonathan Lamar. A team from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau will be deployed to Barangay Bato to locate the missing and assess the situation there, Cerebo said. Fears have been expressed that they may have been buried by a landslide. The four other missing persons are from Barangay Malasila, also in this town. They were Triump Picao, Rolando Acero, Rosalino Dayday, and one still unidentified person. Cerebo said the temblors injured 271 individuals across the province, 82 of whom were admitted in hospitals while 189 suffered minor injuries. The quakes destroyed 20,632 houses and damaged at least 5,000 others, he added. On Sunday, the Philippine Air Force rescued 15 residents and three dogs trapped for five days in Sitio Kapatagan, Barangay Luayon here. Based on a meeting with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology and and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau on Sunday, residents in several villages have been advised to relocate or evacuate, Cerebo said. These include Barangays Bato, Buhay, Cabilao, Luayon, Sto. Nino (Purok 1 and 2), Malabuan (Purok 12, Sitio Basak), Poblacion (Purok Malaang), and Malungon (Purok 2 and 7) in Makilala; Barangays Daig (center), Bacong (selected houses near barangay hall) in Tulunan; Barangay New Esperanza (Sitio Byao) in M’lang; and barangay Ilomavis (Sitio Agco) in Kidapawan City, according to the Philippine Information Office-12.

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Fear, uncertainty and resiliency in Cotabato’s earthquakes

November 2, 2019

The smell of sardines permeated in the five-by-six-meter tent where Yolanda Emping, 56, and her children’s families were staying in Barangay Paraiso here. It was what they had for lunch and they were not complaining.  The local government had been prompt in giving relief goods to them and the other 3,818 family-evacuees. They were in fact having fun counting the number of children who were staying in their tent as matriarch Yolanda could not readily tell how many grandchildren she has with her. They finally got it right with the figure of four families with a total of nine children and six adults. The youngest of the children was an eight-month old baby. Friday was their 19th day living in their tent. “Dili usa kami mouli samtang ga-uyog pa ang yuta (We will not yet go home while the earth is still shaking),” Emping said. Her reason: “Mura mi’g mabuang kung gauyog ang yuta ug naa mi sulod sa balay (It’s as if we’d lose our mind when the earth shakes and we are inside the house).”  She added, “Bahala’g tinuig (Even if this will last for years.)!” Amid the laughter, the fear was palpable. Speaking in Visayan, Emping recalled her experience: “When the first earthquake struck (Oct. 16), we stayed home, thinking it will soon pass. However, the second time it happened (Oct. 29), we decided to evacuate as we did not feel safe anymore and we needed to be with other people for assurance and community support. The third time it happened (Oct. 31), we are already in the evacuation center. “When the quake happened, I tried running for safety, but I cannot keep my balance. It was like I was drunk and I fell hard on the ground. I was afraid of falling because people say that when you fall down during quakes and your head hit the earth hard, you will get crazy. “The ground was moving like waves and produced dusts like fogs.” Worried, Emping added that if the quake returns, “Ambot na lang (I would not know what to do anymore.)” Damaged houses and tent sitios Like many poor farmers, it took Constancio Urbeta, 59, years to build the semi-concrete house of the family in Barangay Paraiso in this town that had been the epicenter of the Oct. 16 and 29 earthquakes. (Neighboring Makilala town was epicenter of the Oct. 31 quake.) His house has two bedrooms made of wood and a receiving area and kitchen made of concrete. This house was the fruits of his labor, farming a three-hectare rubber plantation that gave him P5,000 income every 15 days. Including the cost of labor, he estimated his house to value at P800,000 in the current price. It collapsed during the second earthquake.. “Wala mi magtuo nga mabuhi pa kami (We did not believe that we will survive),” was how he described the moment the second quake happened. “Pagkakita nako nga nahugno ang akong balay, mura pud nahugno ang akong kasing-kasing (When I saw my house collapse, my heart felt like collapsing as well), Urbeta said. “Para sa amo, dili sayon ang magtukod og balay (For us, it is not easy to build a house),” he added. Urbeta knows that the way forward is to reconstruct his house. “Apan, wala kami’y kwarta sa karon (However, we do not have money now),” he said. He explained that his earnings now is just enough to buy rice. In addition, the uncertainty of when the quakes will stop from occurring hinders Urbeta from reconstructing his house. He said, “Kung mahibal-an lang unta nga wala na’y linog, pwede na magbuhat og balay (If only we can know for sure when the earthquakes will stop, we can already reconstruct the house).” For now, Urbeta’s family is staying in a tent along the road by his house. This household situation can be seen in the 29 barangays affected by the series of quakes in Tulunan. Families are pitching tents near their houses, preferring to sleep outside their homes.  The Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) of Tulunan reported a total of 3,818 families affected by the series of earthquakes in October. Of this number, 2,370 houses were partially damaged and 1,448 were totally damaged.  In the less reported municipalities of Arakan and Magpet of North Cotabato, the MDRRMC reported 21 and 557 partially damaged houses, respectively. North Cotabato Acting Governor Emmylou T. Mendoza, as quoted by news reports, estimated the number of affected families throughout the province at 14,000 households. She noted, however, that the figure may change as the earthquakes are happening progressively.  In Regions XI and XII, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported over 30,045 people affected in 72 barangays, of which almost 12,800 are in 19 evacuation centers, while 6,850 are staying with host families, as of October 31. Long haul and incremental damages “We are preparing for the long haul,” said Tulunan Mayor Reuel P. Limbungan when asked about the timeline towards normalcy.  He noted that because of the series of quakes, the damage to households and building structures also incrementally increases. He explained that the houses that were partially damaged during the first quake have incurred additional damages in the succeeding temblors. In the Oct. 16 quake, the number of damaged houses in the municipality was reported at 1,231 units. By the time of the third quake, the number increased by over 200 more.. The number of those affected increased from 8,000 individuals to over 16,000.  “Leadership is vital at these times,” said Tulunan Vice Mayor Maureene Villamor, as residents observed that the response of the Tulunan government had been prompt. “While we may have some lapses in disaster preparedness and response, I believe that we are stepping up,” Villamor said. Tulunan has a 24/7 Incident Command Post and System established immediately after the occurrence of the earthquake. Those needing information are readily given data that are updated regularly as reports from the field gets in. Limbungan said that the municipal government has approved the release of P5 million as cash support to all victims of the earthquake in the municipality. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), in an advisory “Primer on the 29 October 2019 Magnitude 6.6 Tulunan, Cotabato Earthquake” published in its Facebook page last October 29, did not discount an earthquake magnitude higher than 6.6 from happening again in the area. The primer noted: “We expect small- to moderate-magnitude earthquakes to occur in the epicentral area which may continue for several days to weeks, some of which may be felt. Although the occurrence of another earthquake higher than M6.6 cannot be discounted, the possibility of it coming from the same source area is low.” PHIVOLCS explained that the “Central Mindanao (SOCCSKSARGEN Region), which includes Cotabato, is one of the seismically active regions in the country because of the presence of several active faults in the area which include the M’lang Fault, Makilala-Malungon Fault, North Columbio Fault, South Columbio Fault, and the western extension of the Mindanao Fault (Cotabato-Sindangan Fault). Cotabato Trench is also a major source of earthquakes which can affect the region. In addition, there are other nearby local faults, some of which may be covered by recent deposits, and could be sources of small to strong magnitude earthquakes.” PHIVOLCS encourage people to get information for earthquake bulletins, volcano updates, hazard maps, and other information on earthquakes and volcanoes from their website, Facebook page and Twitter, as follows: website at www.phivolcs.dost.gov..ph, Facebook (/PHIVOLCS) and Twitter (@phivolcs_dost) accounts. Earthquake observations may also be reported to DOST-PHIVOLCS at telephone numbers (+63 2) 8929-9254 and (+63 2) 8426-1468 to 79, local 307 and 308.

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No water, goods scarce in quake-affected Cotabato towns

November 1, 2019

Authorities here have called on people to stay calm amidst the chaotic situation the tremors had caused since Thursday.  Netizens posted on their Facebook walls photos of how people from different barangays panicked because of no water supply and scarcity of food when government engineers closed shopping malls, grocery centers, banks, and other establishments for thorough inspection of the structural integrity of their buildings.  Mayor Joseph Evangelista said they opened stores at the city's biggest wet market, noting that vendors are still selling meat and fish but were warned not to increase their prices.  Since Thursday noon, just few hours after the magnitude 6.5 quake, the Metro Kidapawan Water District (MKWD) started the repairs of their damaged pipelines.  As a result, all service areas of the MKWD, including Kidapawan City, Makilala, and Matalam, all in North Cotabato, experienced no water supply, according to an advisory the agency has released to public on Thursday.  Engineer Sandy Alqueza, MKWD assistant general manager, said they are working double time to repair their pipelines.  Meantime, the Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Cotelco) has advised the public to put off their main switch to prevent fires during aftershocks.  Cotelco has already used alternate lines to provide electricity to quake-affected towns, their advisory said.  Since Thursday, city engineers placed yellow lines in each building and ordered owners not to open their establishments until such time they issued certification that their structures are already fit for occupancy.  In nearby Makilala town, portions of the Kidapawan-Makilala highway have cracked and bridges have incurred damages.  Sheryl Orbita, acting municipal administrator of Makilala, said they have yet to assess how much damage the quake has brought into their infrastructures, private establishments, and residential houses.  Since the magnitude 6.3 earthquake on October 16, there have been hundreds of aftershocks in North Cotabato, and three other strong temblors of at least magnitude 6 (two on Oct. 29 and the one on Oct. 31) that resulted to 14 deaths, seven missing, and more than 300 people injured, data from the Cotabato Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (PDRRM) office showed.  The town of Makilala, which was the epicenter in the Oct. 31 quake, has registered at least three confirmed deaths and seven missing due to landslides. The epicenter in the three previous magnitude 6 earthquakes in the last two weeks were all in Tulunan.

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Good Samaritans mobbed by hungry quake victims in Cotabato town

November 1, 2019

 Amid the chaos, destruction and displacement triggered by three powerful earthquakes and hundreds of aftershocks here, kindred souls or groups intending to help the victims were advised to directly give their donations to the local government unit after evacuees mobbed Good Samaritans distributing relief assistance. The epicenter of Thursday’s magnitude 6.5 quake (06.92°N, 125.06°E, as plotted by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology or PHIVOLCS) is somewhere in this municipality, about five kilometers southwest from the poblacion area. Pio Abonado, the local government's camp manager for the evacuation centers established at the Malasila Elementary School and the Malasila National Vocational and Technological High School, said there was almost a stampede as evacuees rushed in a bid to get their hands first on goods handed by several individuals who did not coordinate with authorities. "It was good nobody was hurt," he told MindaNews after talking to the good Samaritans and the unruly evacuees. MindaNews witnessed the crowd mobbing a white pickup truck with several individuals on board who were distributing snacks and slippers at the elementary school in Barangay Malasila here shortly before noon. "We appeal to individuals, groups or foundations to give their donations to our relief command center for the proper and orderly distribution of relief assistance," Abonado said. The local social welfare office personnel are manning the command center. Several evacuees at the two schools said they have not received relief assistance yet from any government or non-government organizations as of Friday noon. Some of them also said they haven’t eaten since breakfast. Entering this town from Davao City, many houses along the highway were seen totally or partially destroyed. The evacuees needed food, water and tents, as seen from the placards or streamers they mounted on the roadside. A magnitude 6.3 quake first struck on October 16, followed by the October 29 magnitude 6.6 temblor (immediately followed by a magnitude 6.1 temblor 98 minutes later) and the magnitude 6.5 tremor on October 31. Except for the latest Oct. 31 earthquake whose epicenter was in Makilala, epicenter in the previous ones were in Tulunan, an adjacent municipality, according to PHIVOLCS. Hundreds of aftershocks were recorded since then.

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Police in Region 12 deploys 827 personnel for ‘undas’

October 31, 2019

The Police Regional Office-12 deployed on Thursday 827 police personnel to augment the security operations for the observance of “undas” or All Saints Day and All Souls Day in parts of the region. Lt. Col. Lino Capellan, PRO-12 public information officer, said a total of 722 police commissioned and non-commissioned officers assigned at the regional office were sent to the nine city and provincial police offices and stations in the region. He said 105 others were assigned as standby force that will serve as response teams for possible emergencies. Capellan said the augmentation personnel will mainly help secure transport terminals, cemeteries, churches and other public places. He said some of them will be assigned in medical outposts, traffic control teams as well as checkpoints and chokepoints in major roads in the region. “Random police assistance desks and posts will be set up in places of convergence to ensure the orderly and peaceful observance of undas,” he said. As part of the “Ligtas Undas 2019” campaign, Capellan said support personnel from the Philippine Red Cross, Bureau of Fire Protection, Armed Forces of the Philippines and other volunteer teams will be deployed in local cemeteries. To avoid inconvenience, he reminded residents to strictly observe various prohibitions in cemeteries such as the bringing of alcoholic beverages, bladed weapons, firearms, loud speakers and gambling materials. He advised families who will bring their young children to provide them with name tags with contact numbers and related information. Capellan cited that there are “no known threats” in line with the observance of “undas” but said the region has been placed on full alert for the holidays. “In case of trouble or unusual things will happen, you can ask any police unit near you for assistance,” he said. He advised residents “enjoy the time with their families” during the long weekend but should also “remain vigilant at all times.”

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Magnitude 6.5 quake jolts NorthCot anew

October 31, 2019

A magnitude 6.5 earthquake hit North Cotabato anew at 9:11 a.m. Thursday. Based on the coordinates given by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) in its Earthquake Information No. 2—06.90°N, 125.07°E - 028 km N 78° E of Tulunan (Cotabato)— the epicenter would be somewhere in the municipality of Makilala in North Cotabato, in an uninhabited portion about seven kilometers south-southwest of the poblacion area. Makilala is adjacent to Tulunan, site of two previous strong earthquakes this month, the last one only two days ago. PHIVOLCS said it was of tectonic origin, with depth of focus only six kilometers underground. It said it was expecting damage and aftershocks. The quake was felt as Intensity VII in Tulunan and Kidapawan; and in Sta. Cruz, Matanao, Bansalan and Magsaysay in Davao del Sur. It was at Intensity VI in Tampakan, South Cotabato; Intensity V in General Santos City, Tupi, South Cotabato and Isulan, Sultan Kudarat; and as Intensity IV in Lebak, Sultan Kudarat.. PHIVOLCS’s first dispatch on the quake pegged the location at 07.00°N, 125.09°E - 033 km N 61° E of Tulunan (Cotabato), or in the poblacion area of provincial capital Kidapawan City. The United States Geological Survey (USGS, the agency tracking earthquakes worldwide), meanwhile, first identified the location at 7.100°N 125.300°E, or on the western edge of Davao City north of Mt. Apo. It later altered the location to 6.926°N 125.241°E, or on the northern part of the municipality of Bansalan in Davao del Sur.

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