Philippines: hundreds of aftershocks after a violent earthquake
The northern Philippines was rocked overnight from Wednesday to Thursday by hundreds of aftershocks after a violent earthquake, pushing anxious residents to sleep away from home.
At least five people have been killed and more than 150 injured when a magnitude 7 earthquake struck northern Abra province on Wednesday morning.
This powerful earthquake destroyed buildings and triggered landslides, even shaking buildings as far as the capital Manila, 300 km away.
“Aftershocks have been happening almost every 15, 20 minutes since yesterday,” said Reggi Tolentino, a restaurant owner in Bangued, the regional capital.
“Many slept outside last night, almost all the families,” he added.
Families received tents for shelter.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr arrived in the province Thursday morning to survey the damage, according to presidential palace television which broadcast his meeting with local officials live on Facebook.
He urged residents to wait for their homes to be inspected before returning.
More than 800 aftershocks have been recorded since the main quake struck, including 24 strong enough to be felt, the local seismological agency said.
Aftershocks are expected to continue for “several weeks,” said Renato Solidum, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, during a briefing chaired by Marcos Jr.
There will be “a lot” in the first three days, then “hopefully it will go down after that,” he said.
– Impacted tourism –
In Abra, which suffered the full force of the earthquake, the damage was “very minimal”, police chief Colonel Maly Cula told AFP.
“We don’t have many people in the evacuation sites although many people remain on the streets due to the aftershocks,” Mr Cula said.
In the city of Vigan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination in Ilocos Sur province, centuries-old buildings from the Spanish colonial period have been damaged.
A total of 460 buildings in the province were affected, including the historic bell tower of Bantay, a popular tourist attraction, which partially collapsed, provincial governor Jeremias Singson told Teleradyo.
“Our tourism industry and small business owners have been really impacted,” Singson said.
The Philippines is regularly hit by earthquakes due to its position on the “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic activity that circles the Pacific Ocean through Japan and Southeast Asia.
Wednesday’s earthquake is the most powerful in this country for several years.
In October 2013, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake on the island of Bohol in the central Philippines left more than 200 dead and 400,000 displaced.
In 1990, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in the north of this country killed more than 1,200 people, caused extensive damage in Manila and broke the ground over more than a hundred kilometres.
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