Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tsunami Alert for Indonesia After Philippines Quake

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency issued a tsunami warning for the northern areas of Indonesia after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck the Philippines on Tuesday, killing dozens there.
“The tsunami movement map and the time has been issued,” spokesman of BNPB, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said, as quoted by the state-run Antara news agency. “Some Philippine regions may be [affected].”
Sutopo said a tsunami may affect the areas around Jayapura (Papua), Manado (North Sulawesi), Patani (North Maluku), Sorong (West Papua) and Tarakan (North Kalimantan).
He did not, however, expect significant wave heights, but advised people in thepotential affected areas to remain calm and stay clear of the coast.
A powerful earthquake jolted three central Philippine islands on Tuesday, killing at least 93 people, tearing down buildings and triggering landslides.
Fifteen of the confirmed fatalities were in Cebu, the second-most important city in the Philippines and a gateway to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, civil defense office spokesman Reynaldo Balido told reporters.
The 7.1-magnitude quake caused centuries-old churches and modern buildings to crumble, while major roads were also ripped open and blocked by landslides.
“I was fast sleep when suddenly I woke up because my bed was shaking. I could do nothing but hide under the bed,” Janet Maribao, 33, a receptionist in Cebu, said.
Authorities said the death toll could still climb, with officials struggling to assess the extent of the damage in the worst-hit areas of Bohol where roads remained impassable and power was cut at nightfall.
Bohol police chief Sr. Superintendent Dennis Agustin said one of the worst affected areas was the coastal town of Loon, where at least 18 people were killed by landslides that buried houses along large stretches of highway.
Loon is about 20 kilometers from where the epicenter of the quake struck at just after 8 a.m. It faces a narrow strait of water, with Cebu about 25 kilometers away on the other side.
Cebu, with a population of 2.5 million people, is the political, economic, educational and cultural center of the central Philippines.
It hosts the country’s busiest port and the largest airport outside Manila, which is located about 600 kilometers to the north.
A university, a school, shopping malls, public markets and many small buildings in Cebu sustained damage in the quake.
Three of the people who died in Cebu were crushed to death in a stampede at a sports complex, according to the provincial disaster council chief, Neil Sanchez.
“There was panic when the quake happened and there was a rush toward the exit,” Sanchez said.
He said two other people were killed when part of a school collapsed on a car they had parked in, while four others died at a fish market that crumbled.
Ten churches, some of which have crucial links to the earliest moments of Spanish colonial and Catholic conquest in the 1500s, were also badly damaged on Cebu and Bohol.
The limestone bell tower of the Philippines’ oldest church, Cebu’s Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, was in ruins.
Other limestone churches that were built in the 1700s and 1800s on Bohol had crumbled completely, prompting grieving for the loss of some of the Philippines’ most important cultural treasures.
“It is like part of the body of our country has been destroyed,” said Michael Charleston “Xiao” Chua, a history lecturer at De La Salle University in Manila.
Aside from its beaches, Bohol is famous for its more than 1,000 small limestone “Chocolate Hills” that turn brown during the dry season.
One of the main tourist venues there, the Chocolate Hills Complex, was severely damaged, according to Delapan Ingleterra, head of a local tourist police unit.
“There are huge cracks in the hotel and there was a collapse of the view deck on the second floor,” Ingleterra said, adding that no-one was injured at the complex.
There were no reports of foreign tourists being killed anywhere in the disaster zone.
Tuesday’s quake was followed by hundreds of aftershocks, at least four aftershocks of which measured more than 5.0 in magnitude.
The Philippines, like Indonesia, lies on the so-called Ring of Fire, a vast Pacific Ocean region where many of Earth’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.
More than 100 people were left dead or missing in February last year after an earthquake struck on Negros island, about 100 kilometers from the epicenter of Tuesday’s quake.
The deadliest recorded natural disaster in the Philippines occurred in 1976, when a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake devastated the Moro Gulf on the southern island of Mindanao.
Between 5,000 and 8,000 people were killed, according to official estimates. (Jakarta Globe)

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