03/13/11 MANILA, Philippines - Tens of thousands of residents in coastal areas returned to their homes after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) lifted the tsunami alert close to midnight Friday.
“The current trend of observed wave heights suggests that the threat of a hazardous tsunami has passed,” Phivolcs said in its final bulletin at 11:30 p.m. Friday.
Phivolcs director Renato Solidum said the advisory warned the public not to go to the beaches and sail out to sea, but these warnings had been recalled since yesterday.
Information gathered from the National Mapping Resources Information Authority (Namria) and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said waves were monitored in at least six of their stations located in San Vicente, Cagayan; Virac, Catanduanes; Baler, Aurora; Mati, Davao Oriental; Davao City; and Legazpi City, Albay.
Of the data they received, it appeared that the maximum waves were 70 centimeters in Virac, Catanduanes at around 7:50 p.m. and Baler, Aurora at 8 p.m., while Mati, Davao Oriental registered two minimum waves at 20 centimeters.
Solidum said there is a possibility that other waves hit the shorelines of the country, particularly in provinces facing the Pacific Ocean, but have not yet been reported.
“These waves might not be that apparent because they measured less than one meter. But there might be people who would report about them in the coming days,” he said.
The waves were triggered by the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck near the coast of Honshu, Japan at 1:46 p.m. (Philippine time), causing the tsunami that affected several countries, including the Philippines.
This prompted Phivolcs to issue Tsunami Alert Level 1 in 19 provinces on the eastern side of the country.
Among those alerted for the possible effects were the provinces of the Batanes, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Quezon, Aurora, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Davao Oriental, and Davao del Sur.
At 3:30 p.m. Friday, the tsunami alert was raised to Level 2, advising the public to be on alert for unusual tsunami waves.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRMC) executive director Benito Ramos said 31,000 people who voluntarily left their communities are now back in their homes.
Back to normal
In Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte, elementary schools located near the shorelines immediately suspended classes Friday afternoon as parents rushed to school to pick up their children, but no untoward incidents were reported.
Residents of isolated coastal towns in Ilagan, Isabela came back down from the mountains after the regional civil defense office lifted the alert.
Dinapigue Mayor Renato Candido said they are used to conducting mass evacuation in his town since typhoon “Kabayan” struck in 2007.
Dinapigue, which is adjacent to Baler, Aurora province, is on a typhoon path where brewing weather disturbances in the Pacific Ocean develops and enters Luzon.
Candido said they have not noticed the effects of the tsunami in their coastline, which is located in the southernmost part of the Isabela eastern seaboard.
At the northern part, local government radio operator Eugene Pasana said the tsunami was felt in the shores of Palanan but it was not huge enough to cause a disastrous effect.
In Laoag City, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos ordered yesterday the return of evacuees to their homes, but not before the provincial government undertook relief and food distribution in the evacuation centers.
Most of the affected families were from the tourist-drawing Pagudpud town, provincial disaster control staffers said.
One hundred families were evacuated from Barangay Pancian, 50 from Saud and 51 from Balaoi, all in Pagudpud.
Other coastal towns threatened were Burgos, Bangui, and Currimao.
Local officials in northern Ilocos Sur towns, though not included in the list of affected areas, also alerted their residents on the tsunami and prepared evacuation centers for them.
In Legazpi City, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said a resident of Tiwi town died of heart failure during the tsunami evacuation Friday afternoon.
Salceda identified the fatality as Santiago Clutario, who was among the 90,836 coastal residents from the towns of Manito, Legazpi City, Bacacay, Sto. Domingo, Tabaco City and the island towns of Rapu-Rapu, Batan and Cagraray who were ordered to leave their homes after the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office raised the tsunami warning.
Salceda said thick debris was swept into the coastal barangays of Victory Village, Puro, Lamba, Sabang and Dapdap, forcing the Coast Guard, police and local government units to clean up.
Panic in Mindanao
Residents living near the shorelines in Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte were forced to flee their homes after Tsunami Alert No. 2 was raised by Phivolcs in the Caraga province.
Evacuation was done in the municipalities of General Luna, San Isidro, Del Carmen, and Pilar, all in Siargao Island.
General Luna Mayor Jaime Rusillon ordered government and private evacuation teams to bring residents to places far from the shorelines.
Siargao Island is about four hours by motorboat from Surigao City. It has seven municipalities under the province of Surigao del Norte and is known internationally as a surfing destination.
Surigao del Sur, on the other hand, has the longest shoreline facing the Pacific Ocean among the provinces in the Caraga region.
Residents along the shorelines of Tandag City in Surigao del Sur voluntarily evacuated to the provincial capitol, causing massive traffic.
Coastal towns in Butuan City and the Agusan provinces were not included in the tsunami alert.
In Davao City, business establishments closed earlier than usual and Mayor Sara Duterte immediately put on alert the city’s 911 emergency response center to ensure that evacuation would be implemented should the need arise.
The provincial government of Davao Oriental also advised residents to seek safer places following the tsunami alert, especially since the coastal area of the province faces the Pacific Ocean.
An hour after the quake struck, Mati City Mayor Michelle Rabat called an emergency meeting of the city disaster coordinating council to implement measures for evacuation in areas that could be hit by the tsunami.
Davao Oriental Gov. Corazon Malanyaon ordered the evacuation of those along coastlines. Several towns in the province are facing the Pacific Ocean. (philstar)