Philippines: Surigao earthquake - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF operation n° MDRPH024

A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

At 22:00h local time Friday 10 February 2017, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of north-eastern Mindanao, Philippines. According to the Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), the earthquake was relatively shallow, with a depth of 10 kilometres, and its epicentre was about 14 kilometres from Surigao City, the capital of Surigao del Norte Province with over 154,000 inhabitants, located about 700 kilometres south of Manila.

Surigao City was placed under a state of calamity on 11 February, following a declaration by the City Council. In making the declaration, the council noted that 20 percent of the city's population has been affected by the tremor; translating to approximately 30,800 people.

Three days on, the actual impact of the quake continues to emerge as government teams, Red Cross personnel and emergency responders from the government and other agencies undertake assessments.

Based on updates issued by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), eight people lost their lives as a result of the earthquake, with 202 injured. The latest NDRRMC update indicates that quake has damaged 3,257 houses in the province of Surigao del Norte, of which 215 are destroyed and 3,042 with partial damages. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has reported that 3,331 families (16,655 people) have been displaced and are currently staying in open areas near their homes, in tents or with host families. Many residents, including those whose houses were not damaged, are apprehensive about returning to their homes because of aftershocks.

As regards lifelines, electricity supply was disrupted in parts of Surigao City and adjacent municipalities of Malimono, Placer, San Francisco, Sison and Tagana-an. Water supply was disrupted in Surigao City mainly due to damaged pipelines as well as in the municipalities Malimono, Mainit and San Francisco. Some telecommunication lines were also disrupted. Almost a week on, electricity and water supply have gradually been restored, with telecommunication providers having undertaken restoration works.

Damage to important infrastructure extends to the city’s airport, bridges and roads, churches, commercial buildings, a port, hospitals, schools and public buildings. Specifically, 6 bridges and 5 roads have been damaged while a total of 40 school facilities are reported damaged. The city government also ordered the temporary closure of high-rise business establishments until assessments to determine their structural integrity have been done. The collapse of the Anao-aon bridge, in particular, isolated the municipalities of Malimono and San Francisco from Surigao City although the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has since built a detour to restore access pending rehabilitation of the bridge.

The runway of the Surigao City Domestic Airport has been damaged, and currently it can only be used by helicopters. Passenger and cargo flights have been diverted to Butuan Airport in Agusan del Norte Province, some two-to-three-hour drive to Surigao City, pending rehabilitation works. Operations of passenger ferries from the port of Lipata have been disrupted due to a damaged passenger terminal and partially damaged roads, with ferry services now being provided from the Port of Surigao.

Assessments continue, including in areas outside of Surigao City, and will reveal more information on the impact earthquake across the province. The figures on damages and casualties are not likely to increase drastically as PHIVOLCS has projected that based on historical data, the extent of damage will not be major.