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More than 170 houses in Lanao damaged by quake

KALILANGAN, Bukidnon – At least six houses were destroyed and an additional 170 sustained damages following a strong earthquake that hit Lanao del Sur and surrounding areas, according to the National Disasters Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

In the neighboring town of Wao, the epicenter of the Magnitude 6 tremor that struck 5:20 a.m. Wednesday, was the hardest hit with 117 houses partially damaged, the NDRRMC reported.

The owner of the three-story pension houses that was partially damaged has placed tarpaulins to cover the walls and windows to prevent debris from falling on the sidewalks.

Also hit was the town’s new legislative building where cracks formed and a portion of the ceiling collapsed.

“We were jogging around the plaza when the earthquake struck. We immediately dropped on the ground. It was so strong,” recalled a local disaster officer.

Mayor Omaradji Pizarro said the legislative building was built during the previous administration two years ago.

Pizarro added that engineers of the provincial government have already inspected the building on Wednesday morning.

He said the local government may no longer use the building now given the damages, adding they might replace the walls and then check the beams and posts.

Pizarro said the council would temporarily hold session at the old legislative building.

In Barangay Macaopao, a section of the national highway was also damaged but remains passable to motorists.

The tremor also damaged pipelines, interrupting water supply Wednesday. By noon, water service was restored.

In Barangay Serran, also in Wao, some residents have started to put up tents and sleeping mats on the school grounds.

Jenny Salvador, one of the residents, said they are afraid that aftershocks would further damage their house and cause injuries.

Salvador took her three-month old son inside a camping tent at the school ground.

“Many of us will be spending the night here while some will also sleep outside their houses for safety reasons,” she said.

The last time Lanao del Sur was hit by a strong earthquake was on April 1, 1955. It measured a magnitude 7.5 killing 400 people.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said that Central Mindanao, including Lanao del Sur, is one of the seismically active areas in the country because of the presence of the western extension of the Mindanao Fault.

The Mindanao Fault is also known as (Cotabato-Sindangan Fault is an active fault that runs from Sarangani province to northwest of Zamboanga Peninsula.

But Phivolcs clarified that the earthquakes in the region does not indicate any volcanic activity. Instead, it noted that origin of the recent earthquake and its subsequent aftershocks were tectonic.

The agency further warned that: “aftershocks may continue to occur for several days to weeks, some of which may be felt. (KEITH BACONGCO)