Residents of the Philippines were permitted to return to their residences on December 2 following a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck the southern region of the country, resulting in at least one fatality. Minor damage to infrastructure was reported by disaster officials.
The earthquake occurred on December 2 at night, affecting parts of Surigao Del Sur and Davao Oriental provinces. This led to coastal evacuations and tsunami warnings in both the Philippines and Japan.
One death was reported as a result of a wall falling over on a woman evacuating her home in Tagum City, Davao del Norte province, according to disaster official Mon Cabonilas.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) announced that the tsunami threat linked to this earthquake has largely passed the Philippines. However, they advised residents in threatened communities to follow instructions from local authorities.
Are earthquakes common in the Philippines?
The Philippines lies along the Pacific Ring of Fire, which causes the country to have frequent seismic and volcanic activity. Many earthquakes of smaller magnitude occur very regularly due to the meeting of major tectonic plates in the region.
What was the biggest earthquake in the Philippines?
The largest earthquake in the Philippines was the 1918 Celebes Sea earthquake with Mw 8.3. Six of the seven largest Philippine earthquakes since 1901 with a magnitude of almost 8.0 Mw or higher were in Mindanao: 1913, 1918, 1924, 1943, 1972, and 1976. These areas are near the Cotabato Trench and the southern portion of the Philippine Trench.
In Carrascal, a coastal town in Surigao del Sur, all evacuees have returned home, as reported by disaster official Antonio to DWPM radio station. He assured that they are prepared for any potential need for further evacuation.
Phivolcs recorded more than 600 aftershocks and urged caution as people resumed their regular activities. The Philippine Coast Guard has put all its vessels and aircraft on alert for potential deployment.
Julita Bicap, a 51-year-old front desk staffer at GLC Suites hotel in the seaside town of Bislig, shared her experience. She said that they started returning to their homes early on December 2, despite the ongoing aftershocks. Power was restored around 5 a.m. (2100 GMT).
Is tsunami possible in the Phillipines?
Tsunamis can be generated by local earthquakes. Local tsunamis are confined to coasts within a hundred kilometres of the source usually earthquakes and a landslide or a pyroclastic flow. The worst tsunami event in Philippine history is the 1976 Moro Gulf Tsunami in Western Mindanao. The tsunami devastated the coastal provinces bordering the Moro Gulf and the northern Celebes Sea. Tsunami waves were reported to be as high as 9 meters in Lebak, Sultan Kudarat. This tsunami was caused by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake with an epicentre about 96 km off the coast of Cotabato.
Minor damage to homes was reported by authorities, and the aviation agency noted minor cracks on wall tiles in some regional airports. The strongest aftershock was of magnitude 6.5, as per the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre.
The Philippines, being part of the “Ring of Fire”, a belt of volcanoes encircling the Pacific Ocean, is prone to seismic activity. Philvolcs’ Hinatuan-Bislig Bay station recorded maximum waves of 0.64 meters. Japan’s Hachijojima island, located approximately 290 km south of Tokyo, recorded waves of 40 cm, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.