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Mm 7.2 (NEIC)

33 km

Large M7.2 earthquake rocks Southern Philippines

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March 5, 2002

An earthquake measuring M7.2 (NEIC) occurred at 21:16:09 UTC in Mindanao, Philippines, causing cracked walls and power outages in urban centers 75 miles from the epicenter, killing up to 15 people and destroying nearly three dozen buildings.

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According to the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC), the earthquake struck at 5:16 a.m. on Wednesday morning, March 6, about 75 miles west of General Santos and 75 miles south of Cotabato just off shore of the remotely populated southwestern coast of Mindanao, near Palimbang. See Maps.

An early report by NEIC indicated the earthquake measured M7.6 but after further review, the magnitude was revised downward to a M7.2. The NEIC determined a Body wave magnitude of Mb 6.8. The NEIC Moment magnitude for the event is Mw 7.2.

The focal depth was at 45 km below the surface, indicating the unlikely event of surface fault ruptures. There were no immediate foreshocks and a few aftershocks in the M5 range have been recorded thus far. On Feb 8 at 18:28, a M6.0 earthquake struck the souther coast of Mindanao. The focal depth was determined to be 5 km which is much shallower than the main M7.2 jolt. There has been no reports from the Island at this time.

The NEIC fault plan solution indicated thrust movement along a moderately dipping northwest trending plane. This is consistent with the orientation of the Cotabato subduction zone which pits an Indonesia microplate being forced under the northern Philippines plate.

Damage and shaking reports
Preliminary reports indicate the earthquake was widely felt across southern Mindanao killing up to 15 people and destroying dozens of buildings.

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Most victims were crushed by falling buildings or buried by mudslides, but four people died of heart attacks.

Although reports have been sketchy, the most severe damage occurred in the South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces where dozens of buildings were partially or completely ruined. See Photos. Some buildings were dangerously unstable and people were afraid to return to their homes. It has been reported that tens of thousands of people were living in makeshift tents during the first few nights.

In General Santos, some 75 miles from the epicenter, people said items were tossed from tables and shelves, pictures were knocked from walls, and tall buildings swayed. Power outages were reported throughout the southern part of the island. Computers and televisions were said to have smashed.

Many walls were cracked or broken, and some collapsed - most were said to be of poor construction, though. There have been a few reports of total building collapse in General Santos. Facades, decks and roof tiles were knocked to the ground.

Disaster officials estimated damage to commercial establishments, infrastructure and residential houses in Sarangani and South Cotabato at 16.5 million pesos. There was no me4ntion of the damage to retail goods.

Many people in other parts of the island were jarred from sleep, many were frightened and some panicked and ran into the streets.

There have been no reports of a tsunami at this time, although there word of seas off some coastal towns swelled by 9.7 feet. [We are looking into this.]

Fears were expressed that Mount Parker volcano, near the epicenter of the quake, might erupt after parts of its crater walls collapsed, releasing tons of water that washed away houses. Mt. Parker last erupted in 1640. In 1995, its water-filled caldera broke due to mine blasting, causing a flash flood that killed hundreds of residents along the Alah River.

This is the second M7+ earthquake to strike the planet in three days. It follows the Afghanistan M7.3 earthquake on March 3 which killed over 150 people and caused widespread damage. That quake was centered at 217 km beneath the surface.

Additional seismic information links:

Mainstream media news reports:
Report update: 9:11:08 PM, Wednesday, March 27, 2002

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