MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - The damage caused by the magnitude 7.7 earthquake that struck off Eastern Samar on Friday, August 31, is estimated around P14.22 million, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Sunday, September 2.
The NDRRMC tally included damage reports from 3 regions: Region VIII (Eastern Visayas), X (Northern Mindanao), and XIII (CARAGA).
In Eastern Visayas, the tally included damage to at least 6 bridges, mostly in Eastern Samar; several houses and private establishments; road cracks along several highways; and damage on sea walls and river controls in Northern Samar.
This region alone sustained damage estimated to cost P 12.8 million.
In Northern Mindanao, damage was reported in two barangays in Cagayan de Oro City. These were the collapse of an abandoned old quarry site in Purok Upper Kolambug in Brgy. Lapasan, and a partially damaged house in Brgy. Poblacion.
CARAGA, meanwhile, reported damage in several public buildings, including the Provincial Gym in Surigao City; the public market in San Isidro, Surigao del Norte; and the municipal and multipurpose buildings in Taganaan, Surigao del Norte.
A house in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur, was also burned down after a gas lamp fell during the quake.
Power has been restored in Siargao Island and Surigao del Norte, Tacloban City, and Eastern Samar as of Saturday evening, the NDRRMC also said.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology reported that the quake generated at least 168 aftershocks on Saturday, two of which were felt.
Returning amid further quake fears
Families returned to their quake-devastated homes Sunday, ignoring government warnings to relocate away from danger zones.
Men, women and children picked through the debris in the quiet fishing town of General MacArthur, Eastern Samar, looking for materials to salvage from their splintered wooden houses.
The area faces the Pacific Ocean on the country's eastern seaboard, where the offshore quake struck Friday, triggering a tsunami alert that forced over 130,000 people to flee.
"We thank the Lord that no big waves came, but still, the earthquake destroyed our home," said Rosel Aruera, a 20-year-old mother of two, as she surveyed her the remains of her home.
"It was so strong we were thrown off our bed and minutes later our floor and walls crumbled."
Hers was among 80 seaside homes built on stilts using cement and wood.
"We have nowhere else to go, that is why we are trying to rebuild here," she said.
Village chief Amador Evallo said the local government had repeatedly warned people to relocate to safer areas inland.
"All of their houses have been destroyed, and now they are trying to rebuild on the same spot. But what happens when another earthquake or tsunami comes?" he said. "That would be a nightmare."
The quake, which triggered landslides in which one woman died, also sparked tsunami warnings as far away as Indonesia, Japan and Papua New Guinea.
Waves of up to half a meter (20 inches) hit parts of the eastern coast but were not high enough to cause any damage.
'We are lucky this time'
The NDRRMC said most of the homes destroyed were those made of light materials, while overall damage to infrastructure remained minimal.
But NDRRMC chief Benito Ramos said the quake served as another reminder for many local governments to improve disaster preparedness and relocate entire villages away from danger zones.
"We are lucky this time. But we can't count on luck all the time," he said. "We also understand that politically it is easier to say they will relocate communities, but it is more difficult to implement."
The Philippines is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world, with an average of 20 typhoons battering the island nation every year.
It also sits on the Pacific Rim of Fire—a belt around the Pacific Ocean dotted by active volcanoes and unstable ocean trenches.
Heavily populated urban areas on the Philippines' main island of Luzon, including the capital Manila, sit on or are near at least four fault systems.
The most active of these, the Valley Fault System, cuts through the eastern section of the island, including across Manila and suburban areas to the south.
That fault moves once every 200 to 400 years, the last time in the 17th century, seismologists said.
Ramos said a 2004 study jointly carried out with Japan said a movement of the Valley Fault System could trigger a 7.2-magnitude quake, flattening 40 percent of all buildings in Manila, a city of 15 million.
Tens of thousands would also die, he said.
"Friday's earthquake off the coast is reminding us that that these faults could move any time," Ramos said.
02 September 2012