Quake damage closes Batangas basilica during Holy Week
MANILA, Philippines – Catholics in Batangas City begin their Holy Week observance on Palm Sunday, April 9, outside their main church.
The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, has been closed after the twin quakes that hit Batangas and nearby provinces on Saturday, April 8, caused "cracks and other minor damage" to the church, the CBCP News reported.
According to the report, Masses will be held "outdoors in the coming days to allow structural checks to be carried out by the authorities.”
“Due to the earthquake this 3:00 pm, people are not allowed to enter the basilica. All Masses will be held temporarily at Plaza Mabini,” the parish said in a statement.
The Batangas City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office recommended the temporary closure of the church, one of the oldest in the province.
At least two other earthquakes in the last 154 years have destroyed the church.
On the same day, 75 years ago, an earthquake caused the church's facade to collapse. The church was also damaged by an earthquake in 1863.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said Saturday’s first quake struck at 3:07 pm, off Mabini, Batangas. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) put it at 5.7. It was then followed by a magnitude 6.0 tremor at 3:09 pm, also in the same area, according to Phivolcs. USGS earlier said this tremor had a magnitude of 5.9.
A 5.5-magnitude earthquake had just hit the province on Tuesday, April 4, damaging the Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours in Taal town.
Saturday's twin quakes caused panic and damage in Batangas, but Science Undersecretary Renato Solidum Jr, concurrent Phivolcs director, urged the public 'to stay calm and review their preparedness and response plans'. – Rappler.com
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