Philippines: Batanes Earthquakes Information bulletin

This bulletin is being issued for information only and reflects the current situation and details available at this time. The Philippine Red Cross (PRC), with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has determined that external assistance is not required, and is therefore not seeking funding or other assistance from donors at this time.

The situation

On Saturday, 27 July 2019, at 4:16am (local time), the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOCS) reported a series of earthquakes struck the island of Batanes, the northernmost province in the Philippines; the first shock was of 5.4 magnitude with 12 km depth of focus, occurred at 4:16am, followed by the second shock, a 5.9 magnitude with 7 km depth at 7:37am, and the powerful shock was of 5.8 magnitude with 1 km depth tremor was felt after few hours, around 9:24am. Two major earthquakes’ epicentres were recorded in the east of Itbayat, Batanes while the latest was in the east of Basco, Batanes. In total, 13 aftershocks were recorded as at 11:19am on the same day on 27 July 2019. PHILVOCS reports that the strongest intensity was Intensity VII (destructive) that was felt in Itbayat, Batanes following the 5.9 magnitude earthquake past 7:00am in the morning.

No tsunami alert was issued but aftershocks and damages are expected. For reference purposes, please see the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) Earthquake Intensity Scale through this PEIS link.

According to the NDRRMC, as of date eight deaths reported while 60 are injured. There is also major infrastructure damage is reported in Itbayat District Hospital. All patients have been evacuated in the open grounds outside the hospital. 60 patients are currently receiving treatments due to earthquake-related injuries while seven patients need to be for airlifted to Batanes General Hospital. Itbayat District Hospital urgent needs include tents for increased number of patients and additional medical supplies for suturing.

Immediately after first tremor, affected people were evacuated to the in Itbayat Evacuation Centre – in an open area like a plaza - where 500 people are seeking shelter. The local government is prohibiting evacuated people to return to their houses since more aftershocks and damages are still expected.

Four shelters, including ancestral homes, were reported to be damaged. Historical heritage is also damaged including the Santa Maria de Mayan Church, which was built in 1888. There is power interruption reported in the entire municipality of Itbayat and mobile phone coverage is intermittently available.

PHIVOLCS continues to monitor seismic events and issues earthquake information and real-time updates. The NDRRMC is coordinating with the city, provincial, municipal, and barangay disaster risk reduction and management councils and issued situation reports. NDRRMC continues to release advisory on earthquake information. As of 12:00pm on 27 July 2019, the NDRRMC has raised the blue alert status - which means local government units (LGUs) have to prepare for a possible impact.

The Department of Health’s trauma medical team is on-standby for possible deployment while the Department of Energy is currently coordinating with National Power Corporation and the National Electrification Administration to resume the power interruption in Itbayat. The Arm Forces of Philippine has deployed two search and rescue and one medical team to Itbayat on 27 July 2019. The provincial and municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils (DRRMCs) are currently conducting damage assessment as well as managing the search and rescue operation.