Powerful 7.5 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Mindanao, Philippines; Tsunami Warnings Issued for Philippines and Japan

Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, Philippines – December 2, 2023

A seismic shock with a magnitude of at least 7.5 jolted Mindanao in the southern Philippines late on Saturday, setting off evacuation directives for selected regions of the country and the southwestern coasts of Japan. The earthquake, which occurred at 10:37 p.m. local time, prompted concerns about potential tsunami waves exceeding 1 meter (3 feet).

The Philippine Seismology Agency Phivolcs cautioned that tsunami waves could reach the Philippines by midnight (1600 GMT) and persist for hours. However, as of the latest reports, there have been no significant indications of wave-related damage.

The U.S. Tsunami Warning System initially raised alarms about waves up to 3 meters above the usual high tide level along certain Philippine coasts. Subsequently, the system retracted its warning, stating, “Based on all available data … the tsunami threat from this earthquake has now passed.”

Phivolcs specifically urged residents near the coast of Surigao Del Sur and Davao Oriental provinces to “immediately evacuate” or “move farther inland.” It also advised boats at sea during this period to stay offshore in deep waters until further notice. These provinces are predominantly rural and less densely populated compared to other parts of the Philippines.

Japanese broadcaster NHK reported expectations of tsunami waves up to 1 meter reaching Japan’s southwest coast by 1:30 a.m. Sunday (1630 GMT Saturday).

While Phivolcs does not anticipate significant damage from the earthquake itself, the agency warns of potential aftershocks. The region has already experienced over a dozen aftershocks, the largest registering at a magnitude of 6.4, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC).

Raymark Gentallan, the local police chief of the coastal town of Hinatuan near the epicenter, reported power outages since the quake but noted that, so far, there have been no reported casualties or damage. “We’re evacuating people away from coastal areas,” he stated.

Images shared on social media by Hinatuan’s local administration portrayed numerous residents and vehicles heading to higher ground, with one substantial shelter housing several dozen people.

The Philippines, located in the seismic “Ring of Fire,” frequently experiences earthquakes due to its proximity to a belt of volcanoes encircling the Pacific Ocean. The EMSC reported the earthquake’s magnitude at 7.5, occurring at a depth of 63 km (39 miles), while the U.S. Geological Survey placed it at magnitude 7.6 and a depth of 32 km (20 miles).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *