8 dead, 60 hurt in Batanes quake; Duterte orders aid to quake victims

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MANILA — Eight people have been confirmed dead while 60 others were injured from the magnitudes 5.4 and 5.9 earthquakes that jolted Batanes Saturday morning, prompting the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) to warn residents against aftershocks.

“The casualties are all from Itbayat due to the 4:16 a.m. magnitude 5.4 earthquake, and the 7:37 a.m. magnitude 5.9 quake. All casualties were due to damaged houses,” Phivolcs director Renato Solidum said.

“As a precaution, people are staying in the open area like the plaza (in Itbayat),” he added.

The magnitude 5.9 quake that struck 21 km. northeast of Itbayat had a depth of 7 km.

Intensity VII was felt in Itbayat, Batanes, and Intensity V in Basco. Intensity IV was reported in Sabtang and Ivana.

The magnitude 5.4 quake hit 12 km. northeast of Itbayat and had a depth of 12 km.  A magnitude 3.2 aftershock was recorded 68 km. southwest of Itbayat at 5:16 a.m.

Solidum stressed the importance of preparedness against earthquakes, noting that the magnitude 5.9 quake is stronger than the magnitude 3.2 quake reported earlier.

Aftershocks are possible, he said. 

“Quick response is essential as there may be aftershocks,” Solidum added.

At 9:24 a.m., a magnitude 5.8 earthquake jolted Basco, Batanes, wherein Intensity IV was felt. 

This was an aftershock of the magnitude 5.9 quake, according to Phivolcs.

Another aftershock, a magnitude 3.6 earthquake, was recorded 33 km. northeast of Itbayat at 11:08 a.m. Intensity II was reported in Basco.

Magnitude measures the energy released from the source of the quake while intensity measures the strength of shaking produced by the earthquake at a certain location.

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo R. Duterte directed all concerned agencies to provide assistance to victims of the magnitudes 5.4 and 5.9 earthquakes that jolted Batanes Saturday morning.

“The President has been briefed on the situation and he directed all agencies to respond and undertake measures to provide assistance to the victims of this force majeure and rehabilitate the damaged properties in the areas,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

The Office of the President is closely monitoring the effects of these earthquakes.

“Responsible instrumentalities of the national government, such as the Office of Civil Defense, are continuously coordinating with distressed local government units, including the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in Batanes, as relief operations are going on and in full swing,” Panelo said.

“We ask affected constituents to remain calm as we urge them to remain vigilant and cooperative to government response and relief teams,” he added. ( with PNA reports)

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