GIGMOTO, Catanduanes (PNA) – The local government unit (LGU) here said there was no casualty and major damage reported following the 6.2-magnitude quake and series of aftershocks that hit Catanduanes Tuesday night, March 4, and Wednesday morning, March 5.
This was based on the initial inspection and assessment of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO), said Gigmoto Mayor Vicente Tayam Jr. in an interview.
"Nagkaroon ng medyo malakas na lindol dito na umabot ng 15 seconds (There was a fairly strong earthquake here that lasted 15 seconds), by the grace of God, no reported injuries or casualties, no damage to private or public properties even churches," Tayam said.
However, he said, to ensure the safety of coastal communities, some 17 families or more than 80 individuals were evacuated to higher ground after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) issued a tsunami advisory.
The Phivolcs reported that at 8:54 p.m. on Tuesday, a 6.2-magnitude quake rocked Gigmoto.
The quake was tectonic, with a shallow depth of nine kilometers. Because of its magnitude, Phivolcs issued a tsunami warning which was lifted Wednesday morning.
"We need to evacuate them, because they are the families that are very near the coastal area they are from Barangay Biong, but after 1 a.m. when the tsunami alert was lifted, some of them went home and some returned home today," Tayam said.
Tayam added that despite no reported damage, MDRRMO personnel are still conducting monitoring in the area for possible aftershocks.
Households were advised to stay vigilant as Phivolcs said aftershocks were likely to occur.
"We also advised every household to be vigilant in their respective areas from the nine barangays, seven of which are coastal areas, they need to report to their barangay officials just in case something unusual happened. Also with the fishermen who went on the sea, especially those who we call ‘nangingilaw’ so, far, based on our monitoring in respective barangays all are accounted," he said.
Tayam is thankful for the zero-damage result and attributed it to the resilient character of the people of Catanduanes.
He said the local government has a standby of 500 family food packs that will be distributed to the most affected families.
Engr. Prince Ian Obo, Gigmoto MDRRMO chief, said the town’s resilience and being informed about earthquake response had helped them to manage the incident.
"We conduct regular earthquake drills in schools, beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) were also informed, and during barangay assemblies, we sit in to conduct seminars and training on what to do before, during, and after disasters," he added.
Rodel Milendres, 48, one of the 17 families who were evacuated said in a separate interview that after he heard the tsunami warning, he immediately packed some important things and go to the upland to secure the safety of his family.
"Baka magtaas po ung tubig, kaya nilikas ko po ung pamilya ko, natakot din po kami para sa kaligtasan namin kasama ung pito namin anak, dalidali po kami umalis sa bahay (The water might rise, so I evacuated my family, we also feared for our safety with our seven children, we hurriedly left the house and stayed on higher ground)," Miledndres siad.
He added that after the Phivolcs lifted the tsunami advisory, they waited until morning or until they were told that it is safe to return to their homes.
Gigmoto is a fifth-class municipality with more than 8,000 population, 7,640 are registered voters.
Phivolcs bulletin said the series of quakes ranging from 2.4- to 6.2-magnitude was of tectonic origin.