‘Stay alert,’ Ilocos Norte residents told after series of quakes

LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte – Following a series of quakes that struck off Ilocos Norte, residents here are advised to stay alert for possible aftershocks that may happen anytime.

A regular bulletin issued by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) showed that at least 14 quakes hit Ilocos Norte since early January this year, with a 5.7 magnitude registered as the highest so far that struck off 31 kilometers southwest of Burgos town, with several reported hairline cracks on several school buildings, houses and roads but no damages so far to property or injury.

About 4:20 p.m. Wednesday, all Capitol employees were advised to move out from their respective departments to participate in an earthquake and a fire drill led by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in cooperation with the Laoag City and Ilocos Norte Fire Division.

As the Capitol’s emergency siren was switched on, all employees rush out the Capitol building, some holding each other while others placing their hands on their heads for protection from falling objects. They were also advised to move out quietly and not panic.

“In times like this, it’s very important to be organized,” said Laoag City fire Marshal Bonifacio Sacatrapos who facilitated the simulation together with fire fighting men and women.

“We should do it regularly because practice makes perfect,” Sacatrapos said as he observed some participants who are not taking seriously the simulation activity.

He underscored a fire may happen in the aftermath of an earthquake so it is very important to train first responders who will immediately apply first aid while waiting for rescuers.

Also, he underscored the importance of properly accounting the number of persons inside a building so that rescuers may easily find them in case they are trapped inside structures.

Prior to the orientation of participants and simulation activity on Wednesday afternoon, Governor Imee Marcos immediately called on all department heads at the Capitol including local government units here to take precautionary measures and always stay on alert with expected aftershocks after Tuesday’s magnitude 5.7 followed by a mild 3.5 magnitude quake without felt intensity on February 18 at 8:35 p.m., 91 kilometers northwest of Currimao, Ilocos Norte.

Latest update from Phivolcs said the tremor was tectonic in origin.

In Burgos town, Mayor Cresente Garcia has ordered the immediate evacuation of all employees, students and teachers to a safer ground in case of aftershocks.

Fortunately, the UNESCO world heritage sites of Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos town and the newly-rehabilitated and century-old St. Augustine Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte have no reported earthquake-related damages.(PNA)



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