Large 6.1 Earthquake shakes Philippines

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Pastor Dale Morgan

Mar 2, 2010, 6:10:45 AM3/2/10
Great Earthquakes In Diverse Places

Large 6.1 Earthquake shakes Philippines

March 2, 2010, 5:47pm

Shaken but not stirred.

President Arroyo endured Tuesday a powerful earthquake in Cagayan while visiting the El Niño-hit province on the second day of her North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle tour.

The President was delivering a speech in Florencio Vargas College in Tuguegaro City when a magnitude 6.1 quake suddenly struck the northernmost region shortly before lunch, forcing her to pause for several seconds until the ground stopped shaking.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the epicenter of the quake was located at 130 kms. north of Tuguegarao, Cagayan with a depth of 21 kilometers.

The quake was also felt in the nearby provinces of Ilocos Sur and Isabela but no damage was immediately reported.

Phivolcs Director Renato U. Solidum said the quake was also felt at intensity 4 in Vigan City; intensity 5 in Aparri and Sta. Ana, Cagayan; intensity 3 in Tuguegarao City, Peñablanca, both in Cagayan; and Laoag City and Pasuquin, both in Ilocos Norte; intensity 2 in Palanan, Isabela; and intensity 1 in Santa, Ilocos Sur, Delfin, Isabela, and Manila.

Mrs. Arroyo was in Cagayan province to highlight the government efforts to help farmers improve productivity, including the use of irrigation systems and post-harvest facilities, to combat the threat of the El Niño phenomenon.

“Oops, there’s an earthquake,” she said in the middle of her speech, stopping for five seconds while holding on to the podium.

The President, who appeared calm, then uttered a long “wow” during the tremor and paused for 15 seconds more.

She then heaved a sigh of relief when the quake was over. “Let’s hope it’s not anything like Chile or Haiti,” she said, referring to the powerful earthquakes that recently hit the two countries and left hundreds of people dead.

Afterwards, the President resumed her speech on the government’s achievements in promoting agribusiness development in the super region.

She said the government has invested on roads, bridges, ports, airports, irrigation systems, and other facilities to spur agricultural production in Northern Luzon. The irrigation systems, she added, have helped protect farmlands from the full impact of El Niño.

“I’m glad to hear that the northern part of Cagayan province is not feeling the effects of El Niño and we can still expect a good harvest from the northern part,” she said.

Joy Roque of the Media Accreditation and Relations Office (MARO) who joined the President’s trip in Cagayan, meantime, said Mrs. Arroyo appeared fine after experiencing an earthquake in the province.

“The President paused in the middle of her speech and remained calm when quake rocked the school auditorium,” she said in a phone interview.

Roque said the people in the school auditorium were calm as well during the earthquake, adding they were actually watching the President’s next move. No member of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) rushed to the President's side when the tremor rocked the school auditorium, she added.

“When the earthquake was over, the President resumed her speech," Roque, the MARO project officer in Cagayan, said.

After her quake encounter in Tuguegarao City, the President traveled to Isabela province to check government preparations to combat the ill-effects of El Niño.

To help farmers survive the drought, she ordered authorities to provide emergency employment and food assistance. She also imposed a moratorium on loan payments in the Land Bank of the Philippines as well as on irrigation fees for the affected farmers.

Meanwhile, Solidum allayed fears from residents on a possible tsunami, saying the tremor will not cause such a sea disturbance. Some residents of Palanan, Isabela reportedly panicked and hurriedly fled their homes as the quake struck.

Solidum clarified that the quake had no bearing on the magnitude 8.8 quake that hit Chile, saying the aftershocks of that strong quake can only happened in the surroundings of Chile within a 1,000-kilometer radius.

He also clarified that the mild quake is not related to the tsunami warning the Phivolcs released last Sunday afternoon.

To prepare the residents in case of eruption of earthquake, Solidum advised all local government units (LGUs) and the academes to continuously conduct an earthquake drill particularly those living near the shorelines.

“The earthquake drill is very significant this time especially there’s an often occurrence of earthquakes to avoid the local folks from panic instead of doing the precautionary measures for safety and to save lives or properties,” he said.

Meanwhile, residents in Pacific Ocean facing-city of Mati in Davao Oriental were rattled when a 5.0 magnitude tremor struck that southern tip city before noon Monday, it was learned.

However, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) reported that there were no reports of damage or injuries from the undersea quake that occurred 16 kms northwest of Mati, capital city of Davao Oriental.

The 5.0 magnitude earthquake happened at 11:15 a.m., said Phivolcs.
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