Surigao quake sends residents fleeing homes in panic

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Residents in Surigao City and the nearby town of San Francisco, Surigao del Norte, fled their homes and evacuated to higher grounds after a magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck the province at 12:35 a.m. on Wednesday.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivocs) placed the earthquake’s epicenter 5-kilometers southwest of San Francisco (Anao-aon) town, its depth of focus at 8-kilometers. The quake was felt at intensity V in Surigao City.

READ: Magnitude 5.1 quake hits Surigao del Norte — Phivolcs

With the memory of the 2017 nighttime quake that struck Surigao del Sur still fresh on their minds, the residents scampered out of their homes in panic at half past midnight.

READ: 6 killed, 120 injured as strong quake strikes Mindanao

“The strong earthquake woke us up from our deep sleep,” said Samantha Espanto, a resident of Barangay Ipil, Surigao City. “We panicked because we were barely awake. With the sudden black out, we had to grope our way in the dark as we tried to get out of the house,” she added.

Espanto and many others said they had a hard time going back to sleep after the incident. Roselyn Armida Merlin, supervising tourism operations officer of the Surigao City tourism office, said she feared there might be aftershocks.

A few hours earlier, at around 3:53 p.m. on July 10, a magnitude 4.7 earthquake also hit San Francisco town. Tremors were felt at Intensity IV throughout San Francisco and Surigao City.

Surigao City Schools Division Superintendent Gilda Berte immediately suspended classes from pre-school to senior high school in all public schools in Surigao City on Wednesday to assess the safety of existing buildings and to prepare for aftershocks.

Rumors of aftershocks and a possible tsunami immediately spread to the coastal community, which sent several families of about 30 individuals to a high ground at the Surigao del Norte Provincial Capitol compound.

Some reported damage from the quake included a tricycle and a multi-cab which were heavily damaged when an entire wall of a warehouse along Nueva Extension in Surigao City collapsed.

In the town of San Francisco, the old school building abandoned in San Nicolas High School in Barangay Anao-aon after the 6.7 quake hit Surigao City in February 10 last year, finally collapsed. No one was reported harmed. /ee

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