3rd December 2023 – (Manila) The Philippines has lifted a tsunami alert following a magnitude 7.4 earthquake that hit the southern part of the country, causing coastal evacuations and generating waves in both the Philippines and Japan. Fortunately, there have been no initial reports of casualties or significant damage in the Mindanao region, although some residents have reported minor structural damage. The area affected by the earthquake is less densely populated compared to other parts of the archipelago.
Over 500 aftershocks have been recorded, prompting the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) to advise caution as people resume their normal activities. Phivolcs stated that the tsunami threat associated with the earthquake has largely passed the Philippines, but it advised residents in threatened communities to continue following instructions from local authorities. Earlier, Phivolcs had urged residents living near the coasts of Surigao Del Sur and Davao Oriental provinces to move inland.
The national disaster agency is currently assessing the impact of the quake, with a team on the ground gathering information. The Philippine Coast Guard has put all its vessels and aircraft on alert in case of any potential emergencies.
Residents have started returning to their homes, although aftershocks are still being felt. Julita Bicap, a front desk staffer at GLC Suites hotel in Bislig, stated that they were still experiencing aftershocks but were gradually resuming their normal routines after power was restored. Bicap noted a small crack in the hotel’s front wall. The largest aftershock recorded had a magnitude of 6.5, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre.
Earthquakes are a common occurrence in the Philippines due to its location on the “Ring of Fire,” a region characterized by volcanic activity and seismic movements in the Pacific Ocean.
Photographs shared on social media by authorities in Hinatuan province showed scores of residents seeking shelter in evacuation centres, located 30 kilometres from the epicentre.
According to Philvolcs’ Hinatuan-Bislig Bay station, the maximum recorded waves were 0.64 meters. Japan’s Hachijojima island, approximately 290 kilometres south of Tokyo, experienced waves measuring 40 centimetres, as reported by the Japan Meteorological Agency. Initially, the US Tsunami Warning System had issued an alert warning of waves up to 3 meters above the usual high tide level.
The earthquake struck at 10.37pm local time on Saturday, with a depth of 25 kilometres, as confirmed by Philvolcs.