Disaster Fact Checks

FACT CHECK: No Phivolcs ‘warning’ of looming magnitude 8 earthquake in Mindanao


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FACT CHECK: No Phivolcs ‘warning’ of looming magnitude 8 earthquake in Mindanao
Similar claims that started circulating in 2019 have been debunked already, yet these continue to spread online

Claim: The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned that a magnitude 8 earthquake will hit certain parts of Mindanao, particularly Surigao and Cagayan De Oro, following the earthquake in Tulunan, North Cotabato.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: A Facebook post containing the claim was posted on November 17 and has 38 shares, 11 comments, and 19 reactions, as of writing. The claim has also been reposted by several Facebook accounts.

The post says: “​​After the earthquakes with epicenter in Tulunan, North Cotabato,  Phivocs had only now issued firm warning of magnitude 8 to follow, to shake part of Mindanao particularly Surigao and Cagayan De Oro areas, is something to be seriously considered for more preparation and readiness in the coastal area. Please umalis na muna kayo diyan (Please evacuate).”

It adds: “The 6.3 Tulunan earthquake is the start of our journey. We still have more earthquakes to encounter but the most dangerous one is the 8.0 earthquake.” 

The post also cited an unnamed Phivolcs regional director as saying that Tagoloan and Cagayan De Oro could be the epicenter of a high-magnitude earthquake due to the active fault line in the area. 

The facts: Similar claims have been debunked by Rappler in January and March. It started circulating online as early as October 2019. Phivolcs has denied the accuracy of the claim.

Debunked: In a Facebook post on October 2022, Phivolcs clarified that while an earthquake can occur in areas along active fault lines, there is no way to accurately predict its exact time and location.

Wala pang teknolohiya sa buong mundo ang makapagsasabi kung kelan at saan mangyayari ang malakas na lindol. Importanteng magkaroon ng tamang kaalaman at sapat na paghahanda upang maging ligtas,” Phivolcs said. 

(There is no technology yet in the world that can tell when and where a strong earthquake will occur. It is important to have the right knowledge and adequate preparation to be safe.)

Phivolcs reiterated this in a public advisory posted earlier this month and urged the public not to spread false information that may cause panic and confusion.

Recent earthquakes: Contrary to the claim, no magnitude 6.3 earthquake has recently hit Tulunan, North Cotabato. According to Phivolcs’ latest earthquake information, a magnitude 2.2 earthquake struck the area on November 16.

The false claim was posted on the same day that a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck Saranggani, Davao Occidental. The quake caused at least five deaths and triggered panic in parts of Mindanao. Tulunan, however, was not included in the list of areas with reported intensities.

Tulunan was last hit by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake on October 16, 2019. Nearly two weeks later, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck the area and affected other parts of Mindanao. 

For credible information and advisories, visit Phivolcs’ official website, Facebook, and X (formerly Twitter) accounts. – Ailla Dela Cruz/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. You may also report dubious claims to #FactsFirstPH tipline by messaging Rappler on Facebook or Newsbreak via Twitter direct message. You may also report through our Viber fact check chatbot. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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