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MRT, LRT, PNR suspend operations after Luzon earthquake

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3, Light Rail Transit (LRT) Lines 1 and 2, and Philippine National Railways (PNR) suspended operations after an earthquake hit Luzon on Monday afternoon, April 22.

In a statement sent to reporters, Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Libiran said: "Stop operation muna tayo ngayon sa MRT3 (We've stopped MRT3 operations for now) to assess the status of our structures. We need to first ensure that our structures are safe."

Libiran added that Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade's order is not to risk commuters' safety.

"Better to be safe than sorry. Siguraduhin na ligtas sakyan ang buong linya bago natin patakbuhin ulit (We should ensure that it is safe to ride the entire railway system before resuming operations)," she said.

The MRT3 then announced late Monday evening that operations would resume on Tuesday, April 23. Its personnel and consultants found no damage.

The LRT2 also said it suspended operations at around 5:18 pm on Monday. All stations were closed to passengers, as "all facilities and systems" were assessed.

At around 6 pm, the LRT2 said it would no longer resume operations for the evening. Train services will be back on Tuesday as well.

"For the safety of everyone, a more thorough inspection shall be conducted to ensure the integrity of LRT2 structures and systems. LRT2 will resume operations tomorrow (Tuesday) at 4:30 in the morning," said LRT Authority spokesman Hernando Cabrera on Twitter.

As for the LRT1, it suspended operations for the entire Roosevelt-Baclaran line.

"We are requesting passengers to remain calm and be mindful of their and their fellow passengers' safety while disembarking at the stations," said the LRT1.

Passengers were immediately unloaded from the MRT3, LRT1, and LRT2 after the earthquake.

"Preliminary guidance from NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) is not to resume operations until after a 5-hour observation period, based on risk of aftershocks, based on a similar earthquake event in Indonesia," Libiran said past 6 pm.

PNR General Manager Junn Magno, meanwhile, said "scout trains" were sent to check critical bridges as operations were halted.

"We may resume service if tracks and bridges are passable and certified by [the] PNR engineering department," Magno said.

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck at 5:11 pm on Monday, with the epicenter located in Castillejos, Zambales.

The earthquake was also felt in other provinces in Luzon and in the capital region of Metro Manila. – Rappler.com