By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Anie M. Paujana, Jhunnex Napallacan, Melissa Q. Cabahug, Norman V. Mendoza March 31,2015 - 12:12 AM

4.7 magnitude quake disrupts courts, office work in Cebu City

earthquakeA brief but strong 4.7 magnitude earthquake shook Cebu yesterday morning, forcing people to run out of buildings and disrupting court trials and some graduation rites.

However, no major damage to structures or injuries were reported.

The epicenter of the quake was located 8 kilometers southeast of Buenavista, Bohol province.

The tremor at 9:47 a.m. prompted the suspension of all court hearings in the Cebu City Hall of Justice in the North Reclamation Area.

It also prompted Gov. Hilario Davide III to declare half-day work at the Provincial Capitol in case of aftershocks and to allow employees to check on their families.

“I was told some employees ran (outside). I just wanted to ensure everybody’s safety,” said Davide, who was in Dalaguete town for an inauguration.

The quake was strongest felt in Cebu City, Mandaue City and the town of San Miguel in Bohol province which registered Intensity 5 on a 10-point scale of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs.)

At this level, a quake can be felt by most people indoors and outdoors. Rocking motions can be felt throughout a building.

The magnitude, which is the measure of energy released by the earthquake, was less than the destructive 7.2 earthquake that brought down over 20 stone churches in Bohol last October 15, 2013.

Last year’s quake also caused the belfry of the Basilica del Sto. Niño to collapse and the eventual demolition of the Cebu City Medical Center and transfer of all trial courts from the Palace of Justice in the Capitol compound.

In Mandaue city, bumper-to-bumper traffic formed in the first Mandaue-Mactan Bridge right after yesterday’s tremor.

In Cebu City, parents pulled out their children, cutting short a “moving-up and graduation day” for 246 kids from a Day Care and after-school batch held at the third floor of the JSU-PSU Mariners’ Court in Pier 1.

“We didn’t finish the graduation program. We just gave their diplomas and yearbooks,” said day care administrator Cynthia Cernal. Later, all guests were advised to vacate the building.

“This is for the safety of everybody”, said hotel manager Ofelia Zabate.

No major damage was reported in Cebu city, said Councilor Dave Tumulak, chairman of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Superficial cracks were noted in the Cebu City Hall legislative building. Tumulak said that ambulances, fire trucks and police cars were sent around the city to advise people not to panic.

The quake was scarcely or slightly felt in Roxas City in Capiz (Intensity 1) and in the southern town of Argao, Cebu (Intensity 2).

It was a weak tremor felt in Iloilo, Bacolod City, Tagbilaran City and Bogo City in northern Cebu (Intensity 3).

It was experienced as a moderately strong quake in Lapu-Lapu and the epicenter, Buenavista, Bohol (Intensity 4).

Mandaue Mayor Jonas Cortes was at the launching of a patrol boat at the gym of barangay Looc when the building shook. People were calm, but walked quickly outside to wait.

Mandaue city disaster chief Felix Suico checked on two-way radio the status of each of 27 barangays but as of noon time only the Cabacub barangay captain reported hairline cracks in their health center, which still has to be evaluated by engineers. Classes went on as usual.

In Lapu-Lapu City, Mayor Paz Radaza was at Be Resort for a seminar when they were advised to leave the building. They waited at the pool area until the all-clear signal was given and the seminar continued.

Work in government offices continued normally, said Andy Berame, the city’s disaster office after checking for damage reports.

In Talisay City, Mayor Johnny delos Reyes suspended work in City Hall and all classes in public schools.

The tremor broke up a meeting of councilors in the vice mayor’s office. Some councilors and workers ran outside.

“Other walked out but I told them I’ll run ahead of you because I’ve already had enough of an experience with magnitude 7.2 earthquake. Let’s prioritize securing lives first,”said City Councilor Dennis Basillote.

All court hearings were suspended in the Cebu City Hall of Justice in the North Reclamation Area.

“There might be aftershocks and I don’t want to risk the lives of court employees and litigants,” said Executive Judge Soliver Peras of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Cebu City minutes after inspecting the building.

No structural damage was reported in the courts housed in Qimonda IT Center.

At the old Palace of Justice in the Capitol compound, work was also suspended in the prosecutors offices of Cebu City and Cebu province in the ground floor.

Court personnel and litigants walked quickly to the lobby and parking area. They took the stairs, instead of elevators.

“I noticed the dangling fluorescent lights swing back and forth. The quake was really strong,” said court employee Arturo Batoctoy.“Gikulbaan mi,” he said.

“We went down in an orderly manner because security guards guided us where to go,” said Assistant City Prosecutor Ma. Theresa Casiño, who was earlier having hearings on the fourth floor.

The Provincial Engineering Office (PEO) inspected the executive and legislative building twice and reported no damage.

A team of six engineers went to the Cebu provincial jail and Cebu South Bus Terminal and found no damage as well.Marco Toral, jail consultant said there were no cracks in the facility and that daily activities of the inmates were not interrupted. Ramon Dumayac Jr., operations manager of the bus terminal, said passengers did not panic and operations continued./Jhunnex Napallacan Ador Vincent Mayol, Melissa Cabahug, Anie Paujana, Norman Vincent Mendoza

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