Death toll in Davao del Sur earthquake rises to 9

DAVAO DEL SUR, Philippines – The death toll in the December 15 earthquake that rocked this province and other areas in Mindanao has risen to 9, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

The NDRMMC said in its 6 am situational report on Wednesday, December 18, that  in Davao region and Soccsksargen, 111 people were injured in the magnitude 6.9 earthquake and one person remained missing.

In those regions, 41 public structures were damaged, 9 of them totally damaged, including the DRRM Office and Operations Center in Matanao and the Magsaysay Municipal Hall in Davao del Sur; and the Matandang Public Market in Sarangani.

The strongest tremor recorded since the December 15 earthquake was the magnitude 5.3 earthquake that struck Padada, Davao del Sur,  at 4:18 am on Wednesday. 

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs)  said it expected more aftershocks as the fault that generated Sunday's quake continued to move, so far generating more than 700 aftershocks.

Phivolcs said the December earthquakes in Davao del Sur were generated by newly discovered active faults and other fault lines.

In a letter to Davao del Sur Governor Douglas Cagas, Phivolcs officer in charge Renator Solidum informed the governor that the towns of Magsaysay, Matanao, and Kiblawan were also traversed by the Cotabato Fault System.

Then there is also the Columbio Fault System that affects Matanao town.

Solidum said the Tangbulan Fault, which stretches from Bansalan to Malalag town also cuts through Matanao, Hagonoy, Kiblawan, Sulop and Padada. There is also the Central Digos Fault.

In an interview with UNTV on Tuesday, December Solidum said the movement of any of these faults can also trigger the movement of other faults near it.

Solidum said the movements can generate weak to strong tremors.

He explained that while the Digos Fault can only possibly generate up to a magnitude 6.3 tremor, its neighbor, the Tangbulan fault, can produce up to a magnitude 7.2 quake similar to what the Cotabato Fault System can generate.

There are also areas in Davao del Sur at risk of liquefaction, including some parts of Davao city, according to the government-operated website, HazardHunter.ph

In his letter to Cagas, Solidum, an undersecretary at the Department of Science and Technology, said that they continued to map Davao del Sur for other possible faults.

He said he hoped the identification of the new faults could serve as a guide to the provincial disaster risk reduction and management council “to keep our infrastructures safe from and resilient against earthquake hazards.” – Rappler.com