Earth Day quake jolts Luzon

A taste of the big one Buildings sway, weak structures crash while employees were ordered to leave their offices as ripples of a powerful quake that started in Zambales hit Metro Manila. Most businesses and schools are suspended until today due to the tremor.

At least eight people reportedly died in Pampanga after the magnitude 6.3 earthquake collapsed concrete posts, fences and a commercial establishment.

The temblor incidentally happened on Earth Day, which marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda, during a broadcast interview, said that more than 20 others were rescued and wounded from a collapsed building in Porac.

Pineda said among those confirmed dead were a grandmother and her grandchild who were pinned to death when they took shelter beside a concrete fence in Barangay Sta. Cruz in Lubao, Pampanga.

At least 20 others were rescued from the building and were brought to a hospital for treatment.

The governor said three others were reported dead when a shopping center collapsed in Poblacion, Porac. Several buildings, including Clark International Airport, were affected by the quake.

Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) president Jim Melo said the airport will be closed for 24 hours due to the damage in the terminal.

“Operation is temporarily suspended except for en route flights,” he said.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade went to Clark International Airport to inspect the effect of the quake on the airport’s structures. It will remain closed, except for en route flights.

The Clark control tower has sustained a broken glass panel. Accordingly, the tower is not being utilized at the moment while it awaits full damage assessment.

Residents posted photos on social media showing cracked walls and light fixtures swinging in the moments after the quake.

Airports still running

No damage was noted on the runways and taxiways of the premiere Ninoy Aquino International Airport following the earthquake. Terminal facilities were functioning with no reports of downtime, according to a statement from the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).

MIAA general manager Ed Monreal informed airline passengers that it is business as usual at the airport.

Cebu Pacific canceled some flights in the aftermath of the tremor.

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines director general Jim Sydiongco said, immediately after the earthquake, the CAAP conducted a complete ocular of all airports and air navigation facilities.

Except for Clark tower, there were no reported damage to other airport facilities.

Pineda requested the Department of Public Works and Highways to immediately conduct inspection of infrastructure, particularly of bridges, to ensure safety in the province.

She said the province was hit by power outages due to collapsed concrete electric posts.

The US Geological Survey said the late afternoon quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.3 and its epicenter was 40 kilometers below the Earth’s surface.

Renato Solidum, who heads the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology or Phivolcs, said the quake was not strong enough to trigger a tsunami.

Pineda added an old church was damaged and some boulders rolled down a hill onto a highway and some concrete power posts were also toppled in one town.

Thousands of office workers dashed out of buildings in Manila, many wearing hard hats, and residents ran out of houses in panic. An elevated train service was halted and passengers alighted and were made to walk to the nearest stations. Several towns briefly lost power on the main Northern Luzon island, officials said.

The Philippines, one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to its location on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire.”

DoE activates task force

The Department of Energy activated Task Force Energy Resiliency in light of a 6.2 magnitude earthquake.

Initial reports from the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines indicate the event caused power interruptions in Pangasinan, Pampanga, La Union and Bataan. Power was also interrupted in Quezon, Batangas, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon provinces but quickly was restored.

Trains suspend ops

The railway systems in Metro Manila have suspended their operations.

“Upon NDRRMC’s (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) advice at around 5:42 p.m. to not resume operations, instructions were relayed to LRT-1, LRT-2, and MRT-3 not to resume operations until further notice,” Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary for Communications Goddess Hope Libiran said.

With Anthony Ching and AFP