Phivolcs warns of magnitude-8 quake in Bicol

Legazpi City (PNA) – Director Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has warned local government officials in Bicol to brace for what could be the strongest earthquake to ever strike the region in the future. Solidum made the warning over Bombo Radio-Legazpi on Tuesday that a magnitude 8 earthquake may occur in Bicol as the Philippine Trench is active and is colliding with the Philippine Sea. “The Philippine Trench is active and can trigger up to magnitude 8 earthquake in the future. So we need to be ready always,” Solidum said. The Philippine Trench is the result of the collision of earth plates and is regarded by scientists as the deepest point in the planet. A few years ago, Solidum warned local officials in a meeting in Bicol to be ready for a stronger earthquake as the region is sitting on the Philippine Trench. Solidum said the Philippine Trench can generate up to magnitude 8 quake anytime and may affect Bicol region in the future. In 2013, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit Bohol and Cebu in Central Visayas, the deadliest earthquake to occur in the Philippines after 23 years. The Philippine Trench - also called the "Philippine Deep", "Mindanao Trench" and "Mindanao Deep” - stretches with a length of approximately 1,320 km and a width of around about 30 km from the northeast top of Luzon up to the Indonesian Island of Malacca Halmahera. Its deepest depth was measured at 10,540 meters below in its deepest point -- the Galathea Depth. On Monday evening, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake shook Gigmoto, Catanduanes. Intensity 3 was also reported in Bulusan, Sorsogon, though there was no damage reported. “Expect aftershocks to occur after the occurrence of 6.2 magnitude earthquakes,” Solidum warned. The Phivolcs said the earthquake was also felt in other provinces of Bicol, while Intensity III was felt in Jose Panganiban, Sorsogon City, Legazpi City, Irosin and Prieto Diaz – all in Sorsogon; Intensity II in Naga City, Masbate City, Quezon City; and Intensity 1 in Manila. It said the quake was tectonic in origin and had a "depth of focus" of just one kilometer, meaning the edges of the plates that brushed against each other did so at a shallow depth. The epicenter of the quake was located in northeast of Virac, Catanduanes, near the east Luzon Trench. Raffy Alejandro, Office of the Civil Defense-Bicol and Bicol Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council chair, said no damages were reported from the island-province of Catanduanes as of press time. A magnitude 3.7 aftershock was also felt at 5:20 a.m. Tuesday in Virac, Catanduanes.