October 27, 2022
MANILA — The strong earthquake that jolted Abra province late Tuesday night left at least 68 people hurt and again damaged cultural structures, similar to the impact of the magnitude 7 temblor that struck Northern Luzon three months ago.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology on Wednesday said the earthquake at 10:59 p.m. Tuesday was initially measured at magnitude 6.7 but this reading was later revised and pegged at magnitude 6.4. Its epicenter was located 33 kilometers northwest of Lagayan town.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday assured that there was enough food and shelter for residents affected by the earthquake, which was also felt in the Ilocos provinces and parts of the Cordillera and Cagayan Valley regions.
“We do not have a critical problem when it comes to food. Maybe, shelter — that is the most important part of the relief that we have to provide now for the people affected by the earthquake last night,” the president told reporters at the sidelines of the National Information Summit 2022 at Manila Hotel.
Citing reports he received, Marcos said affected families were asking for tents as they fear for their safety due to possible aftershocks.
Initial reports showed that about 100 houses in Abra and Ilocos Norte were damaged by the quake.
Assistant Secretary Bernardo Rafaelito Alejandro IV, spokesperson for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), said 466 aftershocks were recorded as of Wednesday afternoon, with only a few felt by residents in affected areas.
In Ilocos Norte, Gov. Matthew Marcos Manotoc said reports reaching the provincial government showed that at least 38 residents were hurt after they were hit by debris as the ground was shaking.
Later in the afternoon, the provincial government updated the figure to 63 residents hurt.
In Abra, the Department of Health said at least five people were hurt, including two children, in the villages of Pulot and Collago in Lagayan.
The Abra provincial government, however, listed six injuries, three of them recorded in the towns of San Juan, Daguioman, and San Quintin. No further details had been made available at press time.
State of calamity eyed
Ilocos Norte is currently under a state of calamity as it is yet to recover from the impact of Typhoon Neneng (international name: Nesat) which hit the province on Oct. 16.
Manotoc said he would ask the provincial board to declare another state of calamity due to the earthquake.
In Abra, the quake also damaged buildings, including 58 schools, town halls, and the Nuestra Señora de La Paz, one of the oldest churches of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (or the Aglipayan Church) located in La Paz town.
Abra Gov. Dominic Valera suspended classes and work throughout the province in anticipation of aftershocks that continued on Wednesday afternoon.
Tuesday’s quake caused “further damage” to cultural properties in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, hit by the July earthquake, according to acting Mayor Randy Singson, citing an initial assessment from the city DRRMC.
The July 27 quake, which also had its epicenter in Abra, damaged important cultural properties and ancestral houses, including a 16th-century cathedral at the heart of Vigan’s heritage district and an ancient watchtower in neighboring Bantay town.
The city government said government buildings would be closed until further notice to pave the way for a “holistic evaluation of structural integrity” of public infrastructure in the city.
In a separate executive order on Wednesday, Ilocos Sur Gov. Jeremias Singson said private establishments in the province could resume operations provided that their buildings were “duly certified as physically fit for work activities” by their local engineering offices.
In Ilocos Norte, authorities also conducted an assessment of cultural properties, including the famous Sinking Bell Tower in Laoag City, which was also damaged during the July earthquake.
Laoag Mayor Michael Keon, who led the inspection on Wednesday, said that the tower sustained “more damage” from Tuesday’s earthquake.
He said that “retrofitting must be done as soon as possible” as he vowed to preserve the tower, which he described as a “symbol” of the city.
“The two earthquakes have weakened the structure of the tower,” Keon added.
Also in Ilocos Norte, the centuries-old Sta. Monica Parish Church in Sarrat town was also damaged, with bricks falling from inside the church and its belfry.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said there was no damage at the Laoag International Airport, but flight operations would remain suspended until Thursday.
The earthquake cut power supply in Abra and nearby provinces, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).
In a report, the DOE said the Abra Electric Cooperative was experiencing partial power interruption affecting the towns of Bangued, Tineg and Tayum.
No power plants or transmission lines were damaged by the quake, the DOE said.