DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Lala Enanoria, a resident of Magsaysay, Davao del Sur, has had barely any sleep since a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck parts of Mindanao on October 16, followed by an even stronger tremor two weeks later, which brought death and destruction to her town.
Enamoria was among the hundreds of Magsaysay residents who fled their homes and sought refuge at the Magsaysay Central Elementary School grounds under tents.
“I don’t feel safe in my house anymore,” he said, citing the almost hourly aftershocks following the magnitude 6.6 earthquake on Thursday, October 29.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said in a report released at 6 am on Thursday that since the October 29 earthquake, 590 aftershocks were recorded, of which 89 were strong enough to be felt.
The NDRRMC report did not yet include another strong earthquake – magnitude 6.5 – that struck the same area that same morning and was expected to cause even more destruction to already ravaged areas.
Enamoria’s town, Magsaysay, is Davao del Sur’s border town with Tulunan in North Cotabato, the epicenter of the two quakes, and latest strong afterhock on Thursday. (READ: ‘We were screaming. Everyone was crying’: Tulunan residents recall earthquake)
Magsaysay municipal information officer Anthony Allada said many people in the town have been traumatized by the almost hourly shaking.
They were still recovering from the October 16 tremor when the October 29 struck the same areas, and two days later, another strong earthquake happened.
As of Thusrday, Allada reported that 958 families or 3,000 people from the villages of Tagaytay, Balnate, Upper Bala, San Miguel, Maibo, and Malawanit had fled their homes – a number of which had actually collapsed or had suffered varying degrees of damage.
Over at Matanao, Davao del Sur, people stayed out of their homes for fear of a stronger quake.
A resident of Barangay New Murcia, who declined to be named, said he put up a tent beside their concrete house, where his wife and 4 children would sleep at night.
“My granddaughter is very traumatized. She would cry even at the faintest shaking,” he said.
But social media might have contributed to the fear, said Digos City Mayor Josel Cagas.
Digos City is among the areas in Davao del Sur areas where some buildings sustained major damage. There were also two earthquake-related deaths in the city, caused by panic.
“Reports are going around in social media about the possibility of a ‘Big One,’ referring to a magnitude 8 earthquake, which allegedly would result in major, if not total, destruction. This report has been a cause of concern for a majority of people who has received it,” Cagas said.
He said the speed that the information was being shared by people “out of concern for their love ones” was staggering
“This news about the Big One is not new to us. It has been the topic of so many experts and scientists. In short, the threat of a very strong earthquake has been around since time immemorial. It can happen not just in Mati or in Davao or in Digos, but anywhere in the Philippines or in the world,” he said.
Cagas said fears over the “Big One” should not hold people “hostage.”
“Our fear of a Big One should not be a reason for us not to go back to work. It should not stop us from providing and taking care of our families. We must not let our fear of a Big One hostage us from continuously moving on with our lives,” he said.
“Lest I be misunderstood, it is okay to be afraid, especially when the safety of our love ones are at stake. But we should use that fear to motivate us to act on our responsibilities. We should use that fear to propel us to be better prepared to face the big one if it indeed comes,” he added.
The mayor said while earthquakes cannot be prevented, the least people could do is prepare for it “such that when it indeed comes, we will be up to the task.”
“We are facing a daunting task. But this task is not insurmountable. We are united and We are standing strong. Together, you and me, and all of Digos City, we can rise above this calamity,” he added.
Among these tasks ahead would be rebuilding damaged properties and assuring people, especially those experiencing trauma, that everything would be fine.
To help people cope with the situation, Cagas had suspended classes in all levels “until further notice.” – Rappler.com
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