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Mahayahay Bridge closed, schools suspended

Authorities closed a vital bridge and a busy pedestrian overpass following the strong quake that hit the island yesterday afternoon.

Classes are also suspended today to give way to the inspection of school buildings.

The powerful earthquake, with magnitude 6.9 at its epicenter in Matanao, Davao del Sur, struck at 2:11 p.m. yesterday, the strongest in a series of tremors to hit Mindanao in recent months.

Intensity 5 was felt in Davao City.

The Davao City Police Office (DCPO) reported that the four-lane Mahayahay Bridge (Pangi Bridge) along Carlos P. Garcia Highway (Diversion Road) in Barangay Matina Pangi, Talomo District was immediately closed after cracks were spotted on the surface. All vehicles are diverted to Barangay Matina Crossing going to MacArthur Highway as total closure was imposed by 4 p.m.

The city government is coordinating with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) on the matter.

City Hall is prioritizing the inspection of roads, bridges and hospitals.

Authorities also closed the Centerpoint Overpass in the busy intersection of MacArthur Highway and Matina Pangi Road in Barangay Matina Crossing, Talomo District due to spotted major cracks.

Cracks were also found on the structures of SM City Davao in Ecoland, a City Hall report said.

The Queensland Hotel in Barangay Matina Aplaya, Talomo District also sustained minors cracks.

A two-storey house collapsed while seven others were partially damaged in Barangay Lizada, Toril District. The affected families were evacuated to the barangay gym.

The Women’s Bulding in Lizada also sustained minors cracks.

The market place of Gaisano Grand in Barangay Tibungco, Bunawan District also sustained minor cracks.

New cracks were found on the structures of Palmetto Condo in Barangay Ma-a, Talomo District. The entire building 2 and 3 have already been abandoned since the last earthquake, except for five residents who refused to leave. Forced evacuation will be done in coordination with the owners of the building.

Classes suspended
City Hall immediately declared that classes in all levels, from private and public educational institutions, playschool to post-graduate studies, including technical and vocation courses, are suspended today.

“The suspension is expected to give way to adequate inspection to be done by qualified engineers on structures/buildings. Areas with structural damages are to be immediately condemned and closed off for public use,” acting Mayor Sebastian Duterte said in a statement.

Duterte said the resumption of classes on Tuesday will “be on a case to case basis, depending on the assessment of the authorities, with due consideration of the safety of all persons within the premises.”

Following the quakes, shopping malls were also closed, sparking heavy vehicular traffic along J.P. Laurel Avenue and Quimpo Boulevard as shoppers and workers were told to go home.

President Rodrigo Duterte was in the city when the quake struck.

“He is OK. He and his daughter Kitty were in their house when the quake struck,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

At least 30 aftershocks were recorded after the main tremor, the strongest, a magnitude 5.2 at 3:09 p.m.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reported a magnitude 6.9, but the US Geological Survey revised the magnitude to 6.8 from an earlier 6.9.

In its Earthquake Information No. 1, Phivolcs initially reported the epicenter at 6 kilometers northwest of Padada in Davao del Sur, with a depth of 30 kilometers but later amended it to 9 km northwest of Matanao also in Davao del Sur, with a depth of 3 kilometers.

The intensities recorded by Phivolcs were 7 in Matanao and Magsaysay towns in Davao del Sur; 6 in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato; General Santos and Koronadal cities in South Cotabato; Bansalan in Davao del Sur; and Alabel and Malapatan in Sarangani.

The quake was felt at Intensity 5 in the cities of Davao and Cotabato; Tulunan and Matalam in North Cotabato; and Glan in Sarangani; Intensity 3 in Kalilangan, Talakag and Dangcagan in Bukidnon; Intensity 2 in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon and the cities of Cagayan de Oro, and Dipolog; and Intensity 1 in Zamboanga del Sur.
There was no tsunami warning.

Girl, 6, dies

In Matanao, a six-year-old girl died after a wall collapsed on her in Barangay Asinan, town mayor Vincent Fernandez said told a local radio.

Victim Cherbelchen Imgador was not able to get out of their house in time before it caved in when the quake struck, the Davao del Sur information office reported.

In Padada, also in Davao del Sur, several shoppers and employees are feared trapped inside Southern Trade, a three-storey commercial shopping store at the town market that completely collapsed.

Engr. Luke Cadoyas, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Officer of Padada, said four persons were injured when the wall of the building collapsed.

Cadoyas told the Philippine Information Agency that they need assistance as his team is not equipped and skilled to rescue those trapped inside the collapsed buildings.

The two-storey Canlas commercial building also collapsed but there were no casualties reported.

He said an old water reservoir located at the public cemetery also collapsed, injuring eight residents.

Patients at the Southern Davao Medical Specialists’ Hospital, Inc. in Padada were also automatically pulled out.

According to Dr. Vincent Paden, the chief executive officer administrator of the hospital, two rooms were noted with cracks. They were able to contact structural engineers and some personnel from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to inspect the hospital for further damage. He said that the situation of the patients outside the facility may possibly last up to two weeks due to inspection. This is to ensure that the hospital is already safe for patients and operators.

At least 14 others were reportedly hurt in nearby Magsaysay town, also in Davao del Sur.

In Kidapawan City, which registered Intensity 6, shoppers in one of the biggest malls scampered for safety and some ran towards the exit points.

The management immediately ordered the closure of its mall when everyone was out of the building.

The Gaisano Grand Mall of Kidapawan had just opened for business last month after the management completed the retrofitting of areas damaged by the series of four above-Magnitude 6 quakes between October 16 and 31.

Shoppers said they heard and saw several broken glassware on the mall’s second floor.

Children were the most traumatized, a certain Caryl Joy, also a shopper, said. “I saw children crying, looking for their moms. Some of them were placed inside the playhouse while their parents were doing the grocery,” she said.

Other grocery stores and restaurants were immediately closed for business after the ground shaking.

In South Cotabato, Rolly Doane Aquino, operations and warning head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said that as of 3:50 p.m. there was no reported fatality across the province.

The 6.6-magnitude earthquake that struck Mindanao on October 29 killed one person in Koronadal after falling debris hit him on the head.

Aquino said Sunday’s quake sent patients rushing out of their hospital beds to seek safety, just like what happened in October.

Also as a result of today’s quake, over a dozen individuals were rushed to the different hospitals mostly due to hyperventilation, Aquino said.

People inside the big shopping malls also rushed out of the malls that closed shop after the quake and succeeding aftershocks for safety.

Malacañang said all concerned agencies have been instructed to immediately respond to affected areas.

“The Executive Branch, through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), together with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), is closely monitoring the situation in Davao del Sur after a 6.9-magnitude earthquake hit the area at past 2 p.m. this Sunday,” Panelo said.

“All concerned agencies of the government have been mobilized to respond to the present conditions and provide immediate assistance to those in need,” he added.

The Office of the President, meanwhile, requested the public to remain calm but stay vigilant in anticipation of aftershocks. The public was also discouraged from spreading disinformation that may cause undue alarm and panic among affected communities.

Mindanao was shaken by four powerful quakes in October and November, which together killed at least 20 people.
It was the fifth quake above magnitude 6 that jolted Mindanao between Oct. 16 and Dec. 15: magnitude 6.3 on Oct. 16; 6.6 and 6.1 on Oct. 29; 6.5 on Oct. 31 and 6.9 on Dec. 15. (Rhoda Grace B. Saron and Samantha Burgos, with Mindanews, PIA, PNA)

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