No tsunami, magnitude 8 quake: Phivolcs dispels fake news following Mindanao temblors

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 31 2019 05:38 PM | Updated as of Oct 31 2019 05:45 PM

Phivolcs scientist Toto Bacolcol explains to media the source of the series of quakes that struck Mindanao over the last two weeks. Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

State quake monitoring agency Phivolcs warned the public Thursday against spreading fake news about the recent series of earthquakes in Mindanao.

In a span of two weeks, three major earthquakes hit Tulunan town in Cotabato and other parts of Mindanao, killing several people and leaving a heavy damage toll. 

Since then, misinformation on a possible tsunami and a magnitude-8 earthquake has spread online and via text message.

Both have been dismissed by Phivolcs and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Phivolcs associate scientist Toto Bacolcol said the problem is that people do not closely read or verify messages.

“It spreads because people continue to forward it,” he told ABS-CBN News in an interview. “If they receive a message (they are unsure of) then they shouldn’t forward it.”

Bacolcol said there is no tsunami threat for the last 6.5-magnitude quake, especially since it did not come from a trench, which is underwater.

He said they are also not expecting a magnitude 8 earthquake in the area.

“Based on the length and based on our data, the Makilala- Malungon fault can only generate a 7.2 magnitude earthquake,” he said.

Bacolcol also said that while the fault could generate a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, it is not possible to predict when it would happen.

He further explained that the series of quakes are not related to any volcano since volcanic tremors are not as strong and could only be felt around the volcano.

“This one was felt all over Mindanao,” he said.

Bacolcol said there was nothing unusual in the series of quakes but added that since he started working at Phivolcs 2 decades ago, there has been no record of similar successive strong quakes in the area. 

“The frequency of earthquakes before is just the same,” he said, adding that people are just more aware now because of sophisticated equipment and the increasing population of people. 

“If there are more people and there is a strong quake then more people are affected.”