The “Ring of Fire” is the ominous nickname for the area in the Pacific Ocean basin wherein the boundaries of several major tectonic plates are located. This general area, filled with fault-lines and volcanoes, is almost continuously beset by volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Among the nations located in the Ring of Fire and thus a big target of those calamities is the archipelago country of the Philippines, and it has had its own share of trials and tribulations from being in this disaster-prone location. In the 1990’s a killer quake and a volcano eruption visited devastation upon the country, with occasional big tremors over the years following. Now another powerful earthquake has visited the Philippines in an area that hasn’t quite felt it before.
CNN Philippines reports that on the evening of Friday February 10, a 6.7 magnitude temblor hit Surigao City and its surrounding area in the Caraga Region located at northeastern Mindanao. In addition to serious structural and property damage, eight people were killed in the quake and 202 wounded according the latest count. According to spokesperson Mina Marasigan of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, they have been able to confirm the identities of four of the fatalities and are waiting on the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for information on the other four. This however conflicts with the official bulletin released Monday February 13 by Surigao Del Norte Governor Sol Matugas, who counted only six killed in his capital city.
With regards to infrastructural damage, Marasigan reports that the tremors left 1,034 residential buildings damaged, with 155 of them total losses. Surigao City’s domestic airport had its runway partially ruined and will be inoperable up until March. Initial estimates of the cost of the devastation is somewhere around 108.45 million Pesos (roughly $2.17 million). Saturday February 11 saw a state of calamity being officially declared in Surigao City, with the NDRRMC remaining alert on the area due to a large frequency of aftershocks. By Monday 152 individual aftershocks have been recorded following the main earthquake by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).
Despite the temblor knocking out power to the city, emergency services were quick to respond and report that of Surigao City’s 211 barangays, 195 have electricity once more, followed by a majority of the province of Surigao Del Norte itself. Furthermore, the city’s water supply is back to 90 percent service, after damage to two main pipes has been repaired. However, Governor Matugas announced that the city needs building materials and potable water for areas where service has not been restored, a call echoed by the NDRRMC.