Ding Cervantes - The Philippine Star
Rescue teams search for survivors at the collapsed Chuzon supermarket in Porac, Pampanga following a magnitude 6.1 earthquake that rocked Luzon yesterday. About 100 people were feared to have been buried in the supermarket.
Russell Palma

Magnitude 6.1 quake rocks Luzon, MM

• Scores crushed in supermarket

•  No classes, office work

•  Clark airport shuts down

• Rail services suspended

MANILA, Philippines — Rescuers rushed to find survivors as some 100 shoppers were feared buried in a supermarket in Pampanga that collapsed after a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck Metro Manila and parts of Luzon late yesterday afternoon.

Five persons were confirmed dead as of last night.

The quake sent people spilling into the streets from swaying high-rise buildings in Metro Manila. Damage to Clark International Airport in Pampanga prompted a 24-hour closure of the facility.

The epicenter of the quake, which occurred at 5:11 p.m., was located at 18 kilometers northeast of Castillejos, Zambales, according to Science Undersecretary and Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) director Renato Solidum Jr.

Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda said two of the fatalities were a grandmother and her grandson who were pinned by a wall on their way to a store in Barangay Sta. Cruz, according to a report she received from Lubao’s disaster and risk reduction management council. The third fatality, she said, was reportedly a boy, who was also crushed to death in the damaged Chuzon Supermarket in Porac.

The Porac municipal risk reduction and disaster management council reported that a seven-year-old boy in Barangay Planas and another two-year-old boy in Barangay Pulung Santol were also pinned to death by collapsed concrete fences.

Wearing protective helmets, employees evacuate their office building in Makati City following a strong quake yesterday.

The local disaster council said rescue operations were ongoing as of late yesterday to remove victims pinned by roofing debris at the supermarket. As of 7:30 p.m, 35 of the estimated 100 shoppers were still unaccounted for.

Blackout hit wide areas of Pampanga amid reports of damage to facilities of local electric cooperatives.

A concrete boundary arc across the MacArthur highway between Pampanga and Bataan also collapsed, rendering the highway impassable to all vehicles for at least an hour until the debris was cleared.

‘Strong, but not major’

Solidum said the quake was triggered by a movement of a local fault. The shaking lasted for at least 10 seconds in some areas.

“It is a strong earthquake but not a major earthquake,” Solidum said in television interviews last night.

A major earthquake has a magnitude of 7 and above.

The tremor was felt at intensity 5 – classified as strong – in San Felipe, Zambales; Abucay, Bataan; Magalang, Pampanga; Malolos and Obando, Bulacan; Quezon City; Manila; Valenzuela City; and Lipa City, Batangas.

The shaking was also felt at intensity 4 – moderately strong – in Caloocan City; Las Piñas City; Makati City; Marikina City; Pasig City; Meycauayan and San Jose del Monte, Bulacan; Floridablanca, Pampanga; Villasis, Pangasinan; Tagaytay City and Baguio City.

Residents of Muntinlupa City; Dasmariñas, Indang and General Trias, Cavite; Lucban, Quezon; and Cabanatuan City, Palayan City, Gapan City, Santo Domingo and Talavera, Nueva Ecija also felt the tremor at intensity 3, which is classified as weak.

It was slightly felt at intensity 2 in Baler, Aurora.

Phivolcs’ instruments also recorded the quake at intensity 5 in Angeles City, Pampanga and Malolos, Bulacan; intensity 4 in Quezon City; San Juan City; Pasig City; Muntinlupa City; Gapan City and Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija; Tagaytay City; and San Ildefonso, Bulacan; intensity 3 in Mauban, Quezon; Talisay, Batangas; Guagua, Pampanga; and Olongapo City; Intensity 2 in Lucena City; Dolores and Lucban, Quezon; Dagupan City; and Daet, Camarines Norte; and intensity 1 in Guinayangan, Quezon; Calatagan, Batangas; Magalang, Pampanga and Sinait, Ilocos Sur.

Solidum warned of possible aftershocks and damage from the quake, which was considered as shallow with a depth of 12 kilometers.

Photo shows water from a roofdeck swimming pool cascading down the side of a condominium building in Binondo, Manila during the earthquake.

“So far, we haven’t received reports of damage yet. We’re still waiting for reports from Zambales,” Solidum said in an interview with radio station dzBB.

He said the quake was not strong enough to trigger a tsunami.

As of 6 p.m. yesterday, a total of eight aftershocks have been recorded from the tremor, two of which recorded at magnitudes 3 and 2.6.

Phivolcs initially measured the strength of the quake at magnitude 5.7 but later raised it to 6.1.

Solidum advised the public to check their homes and surrounding structures for possible damage.

Phivolcs has been warning residents of Metro Manila and nearby provinces of the “Big One,” a magnitude 7.2 earthquake to be generated by the West Valley Fault, which it said is ripe for movement.

Clark airport damage

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) director general Jim Sydiongco reported last night that the Clark control tower sustained a broken glass panel, resulting in the tower not being utilized while it awaited full damage assessment.

There were also reports that the Clark passenger terminal building incurred damage, according to Sydiongco.

No damage, however, was sustained by the airport’s runway.

“Nevertheless, based on the assessment of Clark International Airport Corporation, it would be more prudent to close Clark Airport operations for 24 hours,” Sydiongco said. 

“Except the Clark tower, there were no reported damages to other CAAP facilities,” he added.

Cebu Pacific canceled six evening flights from Clark to Hong Kong, Macau and Cebu, and vice versa.

Flames are seen at the Petron refi nery plant in Limay, Bataan following yesterday’s magnitude 6.1 earthquake. The Bataan Weather Page’s Facebook account denied talk that the plant, which has been shut down, was on fi re. It said the ‘fl are’ is a controlled blaze implemented ‘for safety reasons.’ Image posted on Twitter by JJ TRINIDAD.

The airline also announced cancellation of 10 local and international flights today from Clark to Cebu, Bohol, Caticlan, Singapore and Davao, and vice versa.

The Manila International Airport Authority, for its part, reported no damage on the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIS)’s runways and taxiways following the earthquake, with terminal facilities continuing with no reports of downtime.

MIAA general manager Ed Monreal said it was business as usual at NAIA with its runways remaining safe for landing and take-off.

Train operations suspended

Meanwhile, in Metro Manila, operations of LRT-1, LRT-2, MRT-3 and the Philippine Natinonal Railways (PNR) were suspended following the earthquake so as not to risk the safety of commuters, according to the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

The rail systems “held positions” during the quake, meaning they did not proceed, and eventually offloaded passengers, it added.

The DOTr said instructions were relayed to LRT-1, LRT-2 and MRT-3 not to resume operations upon the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC)’s advice yesterday at around 5:42 p.m.

“Preliminary guidance from NDRRMC is not to resume operations until after a five-hour observation period, based on risk of aftershocks, based on a similar earthquake event in Indonesia,” the DOTr said.

The LRT-2 management, through its spokesman Hernando Cabrera, announced the system would run again today at 4:30 a.m. The system runs between Santolan in Pasig City and Recto in Manila.

The management of MRT-3, which runs along EDSA between Quezon City and Pasay City, meanwhile would “assess the status of our structures” following the earthquake.

The STAR observed sparks on the cables of the MRT-3 system near the Taft station in Malibay, Pasay City, while field staff were deployed to check on the rails.

The LRT-1, which runs between Roosevelt in Quezon City and Baclaran in Parañaque City, and the PNR, which runs between Caloocan and Alabang in Muntinlupa, also followed suit in suspending their operations, and reminded passengers to remain calm.

Class suspensions

The late afternoon quake also caused the suspension of evening classes for college students in Metro Manila.

School administrators took to Twitter to make announcements.

“#WalangPasok – Classes in all levels in LPU Manila are suspended today, from 5:30 PM onwards due to possible aftershocks. Please vacate the building calmly. Keep safe, Lyceans! #LindolPH,” a tweet from the Lyceum of the Philippines University-Manila said.

Far Eastern University also tweeted: “Due to a strong earthquake that rocked parts of Luzon, we are cancelling classes immediately (April 22, 2019). Be safe Tams (Tamaraws).”

University of the Philippines Diliman tweeted: “From Chancellor Tan: All classes are suspended today, Apr. 22 due to the earthquake that hit Quezon City and the rest of Metro Manila and some areas in Luzon today.”

De La Salle University tweeted: “Due to the earthquake, DLSU Manila campus will be closed, Please wait for further updates.”

San Beda University tweeted: “Announcement: Classes and work are suspended today April 22, Monday, 5pm due to earthquake.”

Meanwhile, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto also suspended work at the chamber until the Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms (OSAA) determines it is safe for employees to return to their offices.

The Senate holds office at the Government Service Insurance System building in Pasay City.

“I received reports that there are cracks in the building. I have instructed everyone to go home and only to report back to work when OSAA determines it is safe to do so,” Recto told reporters. – With Richmond Mercurio, Rudy Santos, Ghio Ong, Rainier Allan Ronda, Paolo Romero, Ramon Efren Lazaro, Danessa Rivera, Emmanuel Tupas, Michael Punongbayan, Sheila Crisostomo, Alexis Romero

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