A strong earthquake with a magnitude of 6.6 hit Masbate province and other areas in Bicol and Visayas last August 18, 2020. The temblor occurred at 8:03 am with a center seven kilometers southeast of Cataigan; with an intensity 7 earthquake was felt. According to Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOCS) classification, this is called “destructive”.
Earthquake in Masbate Province – Death and Injuries
Under PHILVOCS Intensity 7, destructive means: most people are frightened and run outdoors. People find it difficult to stand in the upper floors. Heavy objects and furniture overturn or topple. Big church bells may ring. Old or poorly-built structures suffer considerable damage. Some well-built structures are slightly damaged. Some cracks may appear on dikes, fishponds, road surface, or concrete hollow block walls. Limited liquefaction, lateral spreading, and landslides are observed. Trees are shaken strongly. (Liquefaction is a process by which loose saturated sand lose strength during an earthquake and behave like liquid).
The most affected towns that were hit by the strong earthquake were in the Third District of Masbate. These towns are Cataingan, Palanas, Placer, and Pio V. Copruz. In Cataingan, the building of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) was damaged and the road leading to the town port cracked. A bridge was also fractured in the adjacent Palanas town. There were at least 21 people were injured in the town of Palanas, while three more were reported to have suffered bruises in nearby Pio V. Corpuz town.
Masbate local government spokesman Nonielon Bagalihog identified the first reported fatality as Gilbert Sauro. Mr. Gilbert Sauro is a 63 years old retired police colonel whose house collapsed during the strong shaking in Sitio Alimango, Barangay Concepcion in Cataingan town, Masbate. During the quake, his family was able to exit the falling three-story residence. Mr. Sauro on the other hand was left inside where he was hit by a steel beam and concrete pavement. The victim was brought to the hospital but died from his injuries sustained from being hit by debris.
Another victim identified from the strong earthquake is Ronalyn Condrillon. He is a resident of Barangay Poblacion. Unlike Mr. Sauro, Ronalyn was only injured. The Masbate earthquake damaged several houses and structures, including old and new Cataingan public market and the Cataingan police station. Another house owned by a certain Sariy Seduco also collapsed. Thankfully, no one was reported injured or killed there.
Masbate local government spokesman Nonielon Bagalihog said the provincial government is preparing first aid kits, medical supplies, rescue vehicles and hospitals for their massive search and rescue operations. He added that more areas have yet to be reached by the different search and rescue teams.
Masbate Earthquake Intensities in the Philippines
The temblor was also felt at Intensity 5 or “strong” in Masbate City, Masbate; Almagro and Tagapul-an in Samar province. According to PHILVOCS, intensity 5 means: generally felt by most people indoors and outdoors. Many sleeping people are awakened. Some are frightened, some run outdoors. Strong shaking and rocking felt throughout building. Hanging objects swing violently. Dining utensils clatter and clink; some are broken. Small, light and unstable objects may fall or overturn. Liquids spill from filled open containers. Standing vehicles rock noticeably. Shaking of leaves and twigs of trees are noticeable.
Intensity 4 was felt in Palanas and San Jacinto, Masbate; Sorsogon City, Sorsogon; Legazpi City, Albay; San Andres, Quezon; Mapanas and Palapag, Northern Samar; Barugo, Dagami, Dulag, Julita, La Paz, Palo and Tanauan, Leyte; and Sagay City, Negros Occidental; Roxas City, Capiz; and Naval, Biliran.
Intensity 3 was recorded in Baybay City, Isabel, Javier and Kananga, Leyte; Ormoc City; Mulanay, Quezon; Iloilo City; Bago City, Negros Occidental; Malinao, Aklan; and Jamidan, Capiz. Intensity 3 is also known as “weak”. Felt by many people indoors especially on upper floors of buildings. Vibration is felt like one passing of a light truck. Dizziness and nausea are experienced by some people. Hanging objects swing moderately. Still, water in containers oscillates moderately.
Intensity 2 was felt in Guinayangan, Gumaca and Lopez, Quezon; President Roxas, Capiz; Patnongon, Patnongon, San Jose de Buenavista and Tibiao, Antique; Sipalay City; Negros Occidental; Valderrama, Antique; Sipocot, Camarines Sur; Talibon, Bohol; and San Francisco, Cebu. This intensity is also known as “slightly felt”, which means felt by few individuals at rest indoors. Hanging objects swing slightly. Still, Water in containers oscillates noticeably.
Intensity 1 was recorded in Lezo, Aklan, and Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. This intensity is also known as “scarcely perceptible” or perceptible to people under favorable circumstances. Delicately balanced objects are disturbed slightly. Still, water in containers oscillates slowly.
Science Undersecretary and Phivolcs office-in-charge Renato Solidum Jr. said strong aftershocks are possible but “are likely to be significantly felt in the areas near the epicenter.”
Damaged houses and buildings must be inspected and evaluated if (these) can still be used. Strong aftershocks may add on to the damage,” Solidum said via text message to a news media.
He estimated the aftershocks to be between magnitudes 6 and 7, quoting historical accounts of earthquakes that hit Masbate since 1990s.