Eight provinces in the Visayas, including Cebu, were hit by massive power outages while at least two persons were killed and several others either injured or trapped in a collapsed building and a landslide following a powerful earthquake that hit Leyte on Thursday afternoon.
A three-storey commercial building in Kananga, Leyte, “tumbled down” after the magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck the province at 4:03 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
Kananga Mayor Rowena Codilla said that as of 5 p.m., they were able to rescue one person from New Town who was in critical condition.
One body was also recovered from the commercial building that housed a grocery, hardware and a pension house.
The town police, which led the search and rescue operation, could still not say how many were trapped in the ruins of the building.
In Ormoc City, Mayor Richard Gomez told radio station dzBB that one person was killed and over 100 others were hospitalized following a landslide caused by the powerful earthquake.
Gomez added that the Ormoc Airport was ordered closed to give way to Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines personnel to inspect the runways for possible cracks.
In Cebu, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) and the Office of Civil Defense in Central Visayas (OCD-7) told Cebu Daily News that no damages in infrastructures and injuries were reported to their offices.
However, at least 18 female high school and college students in Mandaue City passed out while trying to move out of their respective school buildings during the earthquake.
Sixteen of them were from the University of Cebu Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue campus located along A.C. Cortes Avenue, while the two others were from St. Joseph’s Academy in Barangay Centro, Mandaue City.
At least 10 of the students were rushed to the different hospitals in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, while the rest regained consciousness after they were given medical attention by responding rescuers from the Mandaue City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MCDRRMO).
“They panicked when the ground shook. While moving out of the building, they suddenly lost consciousness,” said Felix Suico Jr., head of the MCDRRMO, in an interview.
No structural damage was seen in the two schools.
Classes were meanwhile cut short in Cebu City as students came out of their classrooms in droves when the quake, which was felt at Intensity 5 in the city, hit at 4:03 p.m.
Night classes in 29 public high schools in Cebu City were likewise suspended, said Bianito Dagatan, Department of Education’s schools division superintendent for Cebu City.
The tremor affected the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines’ (NGCP) Maasin–Ormoc 138-kilovolt (kV) line located in Barangay Tongonon, Ormoc City.
While the 138-kV line serves the provinces of Bohol and Leyte, the trip-off affected other provinces in the Visayas because of the power interconnection, the NGCP said in a statement.
Affected were Cebu, Bohol and other provinces in Eastern Visayas — Leyte, Southern Leyte, Samar, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar and Biliran.
Betty Martinez, NGCP spokesperson, said the trip-off occurred following the tremor which occurred at 4:03 p.m.
“If something abnormal is detected, the system automatically shuts down,” she explained.
According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the earthquake was tectonic in origin with the epicenter traced some eight kilometers southwest of Jaro town in Leyte.
The tremor was felt in many areas across the Visayas, at Intensity 6 in Jaro, Kananga and Capoocan, Leyte; Intensity 5 in Palo (Leyte), Tacloban City, Cebu City, Mandaue City and Ormoc City; Intensity 4 in Catbalogan City, Cabucgayan and Naval towns of Biliran, and Tolosa and Bato towns of Leyte, Hinunangan (Southern Leyte), Sagay City (Negros Occidental) and Burgos (Surigao del Norte); Intensity 3 in Bogo City and Talisay City of Cebu, Roxas City (Capiz), Iloilo City, Bacolod City (Negros Occidental), Inopacan and Baybay (Leyte), Sogod (Southern Leyte), Calatrava (Negros Occidental), Tagbilaran City and Jagna (Bohol), Borongan (Eastern Samar), Guihulngan City and Tayasan (Negros Oriental), and Cadiz City and the towns of Toboso and Escalante in Negros Occidental;
Intensity 2 in the towns of Libjo, San Jose, Cagdianao, Dinagat Islands; Sorsogon City; Lapu-Lapu City; San Juan, Southern Leyte; Javier, Leyte; Tansay and Sibulan, Negros Oriental; and Intensity 1 in La Carlota City, Negros Occidental; and Catarman, Northern Samar.
A blackout was reported in the entire Eastern Visayas and Bohol, while Cebu lost power for about an hour.
“The 6.4-magnitude earthquake in Leyte affected power generators in the area and likewise affected power supply transmitted to the Visayas, thus the power interruptions being experienced within the Veco franchise at the moment,” said Quennie Bronce, the reputation enhancement manager of the Visayan Electric Company (Veco).
But power was fully restored at 5:01 p.m. in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay, Naga, and the towns of Liloan, Consolacion, Minglanilla and San Fernando.
Veco gets power from three power generators in Leyte — Green Core Geothermal, Aboitiz Energy Solutions and Vivant Energy Corp. — with a contracted capacity of 85.75 megawatts.
Martinez, on the other hand, said she was informed that the Compostela–Daanbantayan 230-kV line also tripped, affecting customers in certain parts of the province.
Virgilio Fortich Jr., manager of the Cebu Electric Cooperatives (Cebeco) 3 operating in southwestern Cebu, said power interruption was experienced in the towns of Asturias, Aloguinsan, Pinamungajan and Balamban, as well as Toledo City.
“The Toledo Power Company shut down as part of their system and protection protocol. After 15 minutes, power resumed,” he said.
An hour-long power outage was also experienced in portions of Carcar City and the towns of Dalaguete, Alcoy, Boljoon and Argao — all in the south — from 6 p.m. to 6:50 p.m., said Loy Crodua, assistant general manager of Cebeco 1.
Eastern Visayas blackout
Edna Legaspina, NGCP information officer, said they could not say when power would be restored in Eastern Visayas since they were still assessing if their lines were damaged by the quake.
Children rushed out of the school buildings in Tacloban City, Leyte, when the tremor struck.
“They were obviously panicking. There was commotion as children all wanted to get out of their classrooms,” said Gina Esperas, mother of Marco, a Grade 4 pupil at the Rizal Central School in Tacloban.
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