Early afternoon of February 6, 2012, the general area of the Visayas and some parts of Mindanao were reported to have experienced tremors from a Magnitude 6.8 earthquake. The United States Geological Survey and later confirmed by the PHILVOCS, this quake’s epicenter was off the coast of Tañon Strait in the middle of Negros and Cebú Islands. The Negros Oriental town of Tayasan was the determined area of the epicenter which has a reported 7 casualties, with child who died when pinned down by a weakened wall that fell on the victim. As of the moment, there are no other reported damage to infrastructure in both the islands.
The areas of Western Cebú, Eastern and Southern Negros Islands are under the Tsunami Alert 2 since the earthquake was reported to have been Magnitude 7.0 in some areas of the field by PHILVOLCS. According to my sources in Negros Oriental, there has been reported warning signs of tsunamis in the areas but the alert was cancelled on investigation. Tremor and shocks were felt as far as Masbate and Northern Mindanao. The cities of Cebú, Dumaguete, Bacólod and Iloilo have declared suspensions for classes as well as classes for the safety of the employees and students. Minor damages were reported but was not verified yet.
Since we our country is located well within the Pacific Ring of Fire, the area of the Pacific where volcanoes and faultlines are, it is natural that we will experience earthquakes. We can never prevent earthquakes but however, we can prevent structural damage or casualties. The Luzon Earthquake in the early 1990’s a grim reminder to us of what earthquake prevention can do to save the lives. Regular earthquake drills should be a norm to areas who have experienced earthquakes, especially in schools and establishments as required. A stern reminder as well for my kasimanwas is that it happened many times in Negros last year.
A few clicks on online research brought us countless information drives for the public to be aware of what to do when earthquakes strike. There are many notable ones but I chose to quote for this article the one by National Geographic as found in their website:
- Have an earthquake readiness plan.
- Consult a professional to learn how to make your home sturdier, such as bolting bookcases to wall studs, installing strong latches on cupboards, and strapping the water heater to wall studs.
- Locate a place in each room of the house that you can go to in case of an earthquake. It should be a spot where nothing is likely to fall on you.
- Keep a supply of canned food, an up-to-date first aid kit, 3 gallons (11.4 liters) of water per person, dust masks and goggles, and a working battery-operated radio and flashlights.
- Know how to turn off your gas and water mains.
If Shaking Begins
- Drop down; take cover under a desk or table and hold on.
- Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you’re sure it’s safe to exit.
- Stay away from bookcases or furniture that can fall on you.
- Stay away from windows. In a high-rise building, expect the fire alarms and sprinklers to go off during a quake.
- If you are in bed, hold on and stay there, protecting your head with a pillow.
- If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, and power lines. Drop to the ground.
- If you are in a car, slow down and drive to a clear place. Stay in the car until the shaking stops.
Better than being caught by surprise, it is better for us to be extra-cautious since earthquakes strike when we least expect it. There is a lot more things you could do to prepare but these are the basics. Keep safe everyone for there are aftershocks that may follow these tremors. República Negrénse sends the sterns prayers of concern and safety to kasimanwas in Negros Island.