November 27, 2007

Manila shakes...



(Updated 3 p.m.) MANILA - A magnitude 5.4 earthquake shook central and northern Luzon, including the Philippine capital, shortly after noon Tuesday. There were no immediate reports of injuries and damage.

A report from Associated Press (AP) said buildings across Manila shook for several seconds. Panicked residents also ran out into the streets, including some employees working in the Malacañang presidential palace and establishments in the Makati financial district.

A Palace official also confirmed that Cabinet members who were in a meeting at the Malacañang dining room were transferred to the Palace guest house due to the earthquake.

In Baguio City, hundreds of students inside a five-storey building in the University of Baguio rushed down to the streets for fears that the building might collapse.

In its latest update, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the quake occurred 12:26 p.m. and measured 5.4 on the Richter scale - higher than the agency's preliminary estimate of 4.2.

In a phone interview with GMANews.TV, Jenjen de Ocampo, Phivolcs Science Research Specialist II, said the quake's epicenter was located 77 kilometers northwest of Lingayen, Pangasinan. She said the quake was tectonic in origin and had a depth of 32 kilometers. The possible source of the earthquake was the Manila trench.

On the other hand, the AP report said that the US Geological Survey (USGS) measured the quake at magnitude of 6.0 - upgraded from a preliminary estimate of 5.8.

USGS also located the earthquake's epicenter 195 kilometers (120 miles) north-northwest of Manila and said the quake had a depth of 62.5 kilometers (38.8 miles).

In its latest bulletin, Phivolcs said the quake was felt at intensity 6 in Lingayen, Pangasinan; intensity 5 in Bagac, Bataan; and intensity 4 in Caloocan City and Manila.

Also, Phivolcs said an intensity 3 quake was felt in Pasay, Pasig; Bulacan; Tarlac; Ilocos Sur; Ilocos Norte; Makati City; Las Piñas; and San Fernando, Pampanga. While the quake was felt at intensity 2 in Quezon City, Taguig, and Nueva Ecija.

Interviewed over QTV's Balitanghali, Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum said intensity 4 was felt in La Union.

Solidum said significant damages to property were not to be expected given the magnitude of the earthquake. Phivolcs also said it is not expecting aftershocks related to the earthquake.

Meanwhile, the Baguio City government suspended classes starting 1 p.m. Tuesday in public schools in all levels following the earthquake.

Radio dzBB reported that Baguio Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr decided to send students home after meeting with local officials from the Department of Education and the City Disaster Coordinating Council.

"For the rest of the afternoon, we intend to suspend classes to avoid any issues already with regards to the safety of our students here in Baguio City," Bautista said.

Bautista, however, clarified that the suspension order does not cover private schools and that the decision to cancel classes is left to the discretion of their respective administrators. - with reports from AP, GMANews.TV

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