BUILDINGS and houses were either toppled or flattened when a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit the province of Abra on Wednesday morning.

The epicenter of the most powerful temblor to hit the country this year was 3 kilometers northwest of the municipality of Tayum.

Other provinces were hit by the quake, including Kalinga, Benguet, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte and as far as Pangasinan.

At least five persons died and dozens were injured.

Get the latest news
delivered to your inbox
Sign up for The Manila Times’ daily newsletters
By signing up with an email address, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Trapped This photo shared by Benguet Rep. Eric Yap’s office shows one of the victims of the huge quake in the province on Wednesday, July 27, 2022.
Trapped This photo shared by Benguet Rep. Eric Yap’s office shows one of the victims of the huge quake in the province on Wednesday, July 27, 2022.

All 27 towns in Abra were affected, four of which were isolated — Tubo, Daguioman, Bucloc and Lacub.

Provincial disaster officials said seven towns — Bucloc, Daguioman, Malibcong, Manabo, Pidigan and Tineg — suffered landslides.

At least two major bridges — Manabo and Calaba — were damaged as well as more than 20 government installations.

At least 15 provinces, 15 cities, 218 municipalities and 6,756 villages were affected by the earthquake.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said that the earthquake, tectonic in origin, had a depth of 17 kilometers.

Abra mayors reported that the buildings were either flattened or sustained cracks. The full extent of the damage to the province and neighboring areas had yet to be assessed.

Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum Jr. said Intensity 7 was felt in Bucloc and Manabo, Abra while Intensity 6 shook Vigan City, Sinait, Bantay, San Esteban in Ilocos Sur; Laoac in Pangasinan; and Baguio City.

Cities in Metro Manila were also shaken by the quake.

Intensity 5 was felt in Magsingal and San Juan, Ilocos Sur; Alaminos City and Labrador, Pangasinan; Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya; Mexico, Pampanga; Concepcion and Tarlac City, Tarlac; City of Manila; and Malabon City.

Phivolcs said Intensity 4 was felt in Marikina City; Quezon City; Pasig City; Valenzuela City; City of Tabuk, Kalinga; Bautista and Malasiqui, Pangasinan; Bayombong and Diadi, Nueva Vizcaya; Guiguinto, Obando and San Rafael, Bulacan; and San Mateo, Rizal, Gonzaga, Cagayan; Baler, Aurora; Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya; Ramos, Tarlac; Ilagan, Isabela; Basista, Pangasinan; Claveria, Cagayan; San Jose, Palayan City and Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija; Madella, Quirino; Tabuk, Kalinga; and Santiago City, Isabela.

Solidum said Intensity 3 was felt over Bolinao, Pangasinan; Bulakan, Bulacan; and Tanay, Rizal while Intensity 2 in General Trias City, Cavite; and Santa Rosa City, Laguna.

Phivolcs said Instrumental Intensity 7 was recorded in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur while Intensity 5 in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte; Peñablanca, Cagayan; Dagupan City, Pangasinan; Sinait, Ilocos Sur; and Baguio City.

"We felt really strong shaking. We started shouting and rushed outside," said university student Mira Zapata in the San Juan municipality of Abra, which took the full force of the quake. "Our house is OK, but houses down the hill were damaged."

As buildings shook and walls cracked in the municipality of Dolores, people ran outside, Maj. Edwin Sergio said.

"The quake was very strong," Sergio said, adding that the windows of the local market were broken.

In Bangued, the provincial capital of Abra, a 23-year-old woman was killed after a wall fell on her, police said. At least 78 were injured in the province.

A video posted on Facebook showed cracks in the asphalt road and the ground in Bangued.

"Some of the buildings here show cracks," police chief Maj. Nazareno Emia added. "Power was cut off and internet as well."

Two construction workers in the nearby landlocked province of Benguet died in separate incidents, police said.

Another person was killed when boulders smashed into the building site where he was working in Kalinga province, police said. Six other workers were injured.

Police said an elderly woman in Suyo municipality in Ilocos Sur province suffered fatal injuries after she was buried by a landslide while out walking.

In Vigan City, a Unesco World Heritage site in Ilocos Sur, centuries-old structures built during the Spanish colonial period were damaged, police said.

The Philippines is regularly rocked by quakes due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.

In October 2013, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Bohol Island in the central Philippines, killing more than 200 people and triggering landslides.

Old churches in the birthplace of Catholicism in the Philippines were badly damaged. Nearly 400,000 were displaced and tens of thousands of houses were damaged.

A car is buried under debris from a ruined old house in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. AFP photo
A car is buried under debris from a ruined old house in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. AFP photo

Aftershocks

Aftershocks continued to rock Abra, with Phivolcs recording over 200 tremors as of Wednesday afternoon.

Terrorized residents in the province refused to go back to their damaged homes, opting to sleep outdoors.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Wednesday postponed a planned visit to the quake-hit areas to give local officials time to attend to the needs of their constituents.

"I am staying away from going to the affected areas for a very simple reason: it has been my experience as governor, it has been my experience in [Typhoon] "Yolanda," that when the national officers come to the affected areas immediately, we just hinder the work of the locals," he told reporters.

"So, I said let them do their work. Let us wait for them to tell us what the true situation is, and maybe I can schedule a trip as soon as possible," he added.

Marcos tasked the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) "to immediately provide support" to the local government units and affected citizens.

The President underscored the urgency to restore power in hardest-hit areas.

However, he said there was no need to declare a state of calamity.

Marcos appealed to affected residents to wait for officials and experts to inspect their houses first before going back.

Social Welfare Secretary Erwin Tulfo flew to Abra province to oversee government aid and assistance operations.

In a quick press statement after he met Abra governor Dominic Valera, Vice Gov. Ma. Jocelyn Valera, former Rep. JB Bernos and other officials, Tulfo said P6 million in aid was allotted for the province while over 2,000 family food packs are ready for distribution for the earthquake victims.

An additional 5,000 more food packs were expected to arrive anytime in the province.

The DSWD has allotted more than P1 billion in standby funds and stockpiles of family food packs and other food and non-food items for those displaced by the earthquake.

Col. Xerxes Trinidad, Philippine Army spokesperson, said the 24th Infantry Battalion, together with Abra's Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, local police and other responders, have also launched disaster response efforts. The Philippine National Police has also been mobilized to fast-track relief and disaster-response efforts.

With AFP