Magnitude 7.2 earthquake rocks Davao Oriental

MANILA, Philippines (7th UPDATE) – A magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck off east of Governor Generoso town in Davao Oriental on Saturday, December 29, with possible tsunami threat for parts of the Philippines and Indonesia.

According to a bulletin posted by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the quake was recorded at 11: 39 am Saturday. Aftershocks were expected.

The earthquake was felt in the following areas:

Phivolcs initially reported the earthquake at magnitude 7.1. Meanwhile, monitor US Geological Survey reported a magnitude 6.9 quake, striking at a depth of 59 kilometers.

Tsunami warning

Phivolcs initially said minor sea level disturbances such as "strong currents and rapid rise and fall of seawaters" can be expected on the following areas:

The public was advised to be alert for "unusual waves" and not to go to the coast from 12 pm to 2 pm Saturday. The first tsunami waves were expected to arrive between those hours, with height less than one meter above normal tides.

Phivolcs added the "waves may continue for hours."

Phivolcs also warned those located very near the shoreline to "move farther inland." They also advised owners of boats near coastal waters to secure their boats and stay offshore in deep waters instead.

In Digos City, Davao del Sur, residents living near the shoreline have reported that the sea had retreated a bit, but no official was able was to confirm this as of posting.

There was also no major movement of people, although some residents were seen packing their belongings to village gyms and halls.

But at 3 pm, the agency lifted the tsunami warnings, saying that minor sea level disturbances in the earlier affected areas "have largely passed."

Suspended coastal activities

In a text message, Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) General Manager Jay Santiago told Rappler that operational, safety, and security protocols are now in place, after the port authority detected the seismic movements.

"I have already instructed PPA terminals affected by the Phivolcs warning to halt operations and lock down the facilities, and keep all personnel and passengers in safe locations until we receive information or notice that the threat has subsided," Santiago said.

The Philippine Coast Guard has also suspended all coastal activities in the affected provinces.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said "hazardous tsunami waves from this earthquake are possible" along the coasts of Indonesia and the Philippines. – with reports from Sofia Tomacruz and the Agence France-Presse/

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.