At 22:00h local time Friday 10 February 2017, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of north-easternmost 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 140,000 inhabitants and located about 700 kilometres (km) south of Manila. No tsunami alert was issued.
Surigao City was placed under a state of calamity on 11 February. Search and rescue operations are still ongoing, with multiagency rescue workers involved. The humanitarian impact wrought by the quake is emerging as government teams, Red Cross personnel and emergency responders from other agencies continue to undertake assessments.
Based on updates issued by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), there is no change in the number of deaths – six – while the number of injuries has increased to 202. The quake left a total of 1,034 houses damaged in 54 barangays (villages) across the region of CARAGA; 155 are totally and 879 partially. The 5,170 people displaced due to the damage to their homes are currently staying in open areas near their homes or with host families.
As regards lifelines, electricity supply remains disrupted in parts of Surigao City while there are still total blackouts in the adjacent municipalities of Malimono, Placer, San Francisco, Sison and Tagana-an. Water supply has also been badly disrupted in Surigao City as well as in the municipalities Malimono, Mainit and San Francisco, mainly due to damaged pipelines. Some telecommunication lines are still disrupted in affected areas.
Damage to critical infrastructure extends to the airport, bridges and roads, churches, commercial buildings, a port and schools. Specifically, six bridges and five roads have been damaged while a total of 12 schools are reported damaged. The collapse of the Anao-aon bridge, in particular, has isolated the municipalities of Malimono and San Francisco from Surigao City. 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.
It should be noted that some of the areas outside of Surigao City have yet to be assessed or reported on. These areas are likely to have experienced the same magnitude level of earthquake as Surigao City. Assessments continue and will reveal more information on the impact in the surrounding smaller towns or rural areas. While the figures on damages and casualties will likely increase, PHIVOLCS has projected that based on historical data, the extent of damage will not be major.