Pinoys unable to access Phivolcs earthquake report

For nearly an hour after an earthquake struck parts of Luzon including Metro Manila at 1:15 a.m. Tuesday, Filipinos had near silence from government about what happend.

Only at 2:15 a.m. was the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) able to send out via its Twitter account the full details of the magnitude 5.9 earthquake with its epicenter off the coast of Iba, Zambales.

The Philippine Institute of Vulcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) first reported at 1:31 a.m. on Tuesday that it was a magnitude 6.2 earthquake that jolted parts of Luzon, including Metro Manila. But the bulletin could not be accessed.

GMA News Online repeatedly tried to access the Phivolcs webpage while much of Luzon was still being jolted by aftershocks, but the attempts kept timing out.

The news desk of GMA’s TV news department was able to reach Phivolcs by phone at 1:35 a.m., and was given only preliminary information about the intensity of the quake as it was felt in Quezon City. No further details were given by Phivolcs.

GMA News tweeted the preliminary word from Phivolcs at 1:35 a.m. Prior to that GMA News also tweeted about the quake at 1:26 a.m. citing the Global Seismic Monitor as the source.

The United States Geological Service (USGS) was the source of nearly all the initial reports about the quake. John Bellini of the USGS said in an email to GMA News Online that they posted a bulletin at 1:35 a.m. (Manila Time) or 20 minutes after the quake struck.

GMA News tweeted the link to the USGS post at 1:37 a.m.

Phivolcs claimed it issued its first bulletin at 1:31 a.m., or 16 minutes after the quake hit. Apparently, even the DOST had difficulty accessing the Phivolcs website as it was able to tweet the link to official government bulletin only at 2:15 a.m.

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

GMA News sent via Twitter, the link to the Phivolcs bulletin at 2:18 a.m.

As of this posting, the Phivolcs web team could not be reached for comment.

Filipinos turn to Twitter

While Luzon shook with aftershocks within the hour after the quake struck, Filipinos flooded the Twitterverse with messages filling the void left by Phivolcs and DOST.

[View the story "Twittizens lead reportage of Manila quake" on Storify]

Technical difficulties?

In a telephone interview with GMA News Online late Wednesday, Phivolcs Science Research Specialist Henry Peñarubia confirmed that the first earthquake bulletin came out at 1:31 a.m., roughly 15 minutes after the quake hit, initially reporting a magnitude 6.2 earthquake.

Phivolcs has since updated their report, which is now aligned with the USGS report pinning the magnitude at 5.9.

According to Peñarubia, it takes roughly 5 minutes after an earthquake for Phivolcs to manually plot an earthquake and come up with a bulletin.

Asked why the bulletin was inaccessible on the Phivolcs website for nearly an hour, he said the Phivolcs web team should answer the question.

GMA News Only tried to contact the web team but no one answered anymore.

Once data from stations in the vicinity of the epicenter have been fed into Philvolcs earthquake plotter software, a bulletin is drafted and sent to the director, key personnel and field correspondents of the agency before it is posted on the website, said Peñarubia.

Peñarubia added that Phivolcs receives real-time information from its 65 seismic stations.

However, he explained that recently Phivolcs has been experiencing setbacks because of their transition to a new satellite.

He said that the transition from the old Agila satellite system — which expires this year — to the new Korean system began only last month or early this July and is expected to be completed next October. “[By October], it’s gonna be back to normal," he added.

Currently, only three monitoring stations have been reset to the new satellite system.

Peñarubia, however, said that Phivolcs has back up stations in place should a huge earthquake hit the country or if the main station in Metro Manila goes offline.

“[There are] mirror stations in Tagaytay and Davao that receive the same data the main office gets," he said.

However, the mirror stations’ ability to take over the main station’s role in the event of a disaster or a power outage is unsure. “Testing [of the mirror stations], nangyari na pero not yet in practice," he added. — With a report by Timothy James Dimacali/VS, GMA News


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippines to fly over disputed South China Sea: Aquino
    Philippines to fly over disputed South China Sea: Aquino

    Philippine military and commercial aircraft will keep flying over disputed areas in the South China Sea despite Chinese warnings over the airspace, President Benigno Aquino said on Monday. "We will still fly the routes that we fly based on the international law from the various conventions we entered into," Aquino told reporters when asked whether the Philippines accepted China's position. The Chinese military last week ordered a US Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane away from airspace …

  • ‘Kentex owners still in Phl’
    ‘Kentex owners still in Phl’

    The daughter of one of the Kentex Manufacturing Corp. owners has assured the government that the businessmen are still in the Philippines, contrary to some reports that they have fled the country. Barbara Ang, daughter of Kentex shareholder Veato Ang, said her father and his business partners have no plans of leaving the country despite the razing of the Valenzuela slipper factory, which killed 72 workers on May 13. Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian also stood by his promise to punish any local …

  • Gasoline prices up, diesel down
    Gasoline prices up, diesel down

    Oil companies announced yesterday a price hike of 50 centavos per liter for gasoline and a rollback of 50 centavos per liter for diesel effective at 6 a.m. today. Independent oil firms were among the first to announce the price adjustment. In an advisory, PTT Philippines, the local subsidiary of Thailand’s biggest oil firm said it cut diesel prices by 50 centavos per liter and increased gasoline prices by 50 centavos per liter. …

  • Lawmakers to review building code provisions
    Lawmakers to review building code provisions

    Lawmakers are set to review provisions of the National Building Code and Republic Act 10121, or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, to strengthen contingencies and policies to prepare the country for possible major earthquakes. The move came following proposals from Reps. Winston Castelo of Quezon City and Lito Atienza of the Buhay party-list to review the two laws and other regulations during a hearing of the House committee on Metro Manila development on the …

  • Noy: Phl may attain first world status with continued reforms
    Noy: Phl may attain first world status with continued reforms

    The Philippines’ attaining first world status may soon be imminent if significant reforms initiated by the current administration would be consistently pursued, President Aquino suggested yesterday. “Kung madidiligan ang ating mga pinunla, at makaka-graduate ang mga pinag-aaral natin upang makapasok sa maaayos na trabaho, baka po tuluyan nang nasa first world status tayo sa panahong iyon (If we water the seeds sown and those we sent to school will find better jobs, then time will come that …

  • Phl won’t recognize China air restrictions
    Phl won’t recognize China air restrictions

    The Philippines will not recognize restrictions on air and sea travel set by China in the West Philippine Sea, President Aquino said yesterday. “We will still fly the routes that we fly based on international law and the various conventions, agreements that have been entered into through various decades,” Aquino told reporters in an ambush interview after inspecting the Marikina Elementary School in preparation for the opening of classes in June. “Maybe we should not think about getting …

  • Rainy season likely in 2nd week of June
    Rainy season likely in 2nd week of June

    Filipinos may have to wait until the second or third week of June for rain, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said yesterday. Rene Paciente, chief of PAGASA’s marine meteorological services section, said they expect the rainy season to start in the second or third week of June. The criteria for declaring the onset of the rainy season include the prevalence of the southwest monsoon and the 25-millimeter rainfall recorded in at least five …

  • UN urged to probe torture cases under Noy’s term
    UN urged to probe torture cases under Noy’s term

    The United Nations has been asked to look into   110 cases of torture and numerous cases of illegal arrests during the Aquino administration. Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general, yesterday said the matter could be looked into when the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) visits from May 25 to June 3 to monitor the  implementation of the Optional protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OpCAT), which the Philippines ratified in 2012. “We enjoin the UN SPT to …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options