Strongest Earthquake in the Philippines – Top 10

Top 10 Strongest Earthquake in the Philippines

S.No.

Strongest Earthquake in the Philippines

Year

1

Moro Gulf Earthquake

1976

2

Luzon Earthquake

1990

3

Lanao Earthquake

1955

4

Casiguran Earthquake 

1968

5

Bohol Earthquake 

2013

6

Mindoro Earthquake 

1994

7

Panay Earthquake

1990

8

Ragay Gulf Earthquake 

1973

9

Negros Oriental Earthquake

2012

10

Palimbang Earthquake 

2002

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Strongest Earthquake in the Philippines

The Philippines, situated along the volatile Pacific Ring of Fire, has a long history of enduring powerful and destructive earthquakes. These seismic events have not only tested the resilience of the Filipino people but have also left lasting impacts on the nation’s history and infrastructure. In this article, we delve into the ten strongest earthquakes ever recorded in Philippine history, each marked by its magnitude and the year it struck. These tremors serve as a somber reminder of the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters and the importance of preparedness and resilience in the face of such formidable forces of nature.

TRENDING

1. Moro Gulf Earthquake (1976)

The Moro Gulf Earthquake of 1976 stands as one of the most devastating natural disasters in the history of the Philippines. Occurring on August 17, 1976, this earthquake struck the Moro Gulf region with a staggering magnitude of 8.1. What made this event particularly catastrophic was the accompanying tsunami that reached towering heights of up to 9 meters, triggered by the seismic activity offshore. This tsunami inundated coastal communities along the Moro Gulf coastline, leaving residents with little time to escape its wrath.

The impact was nothing short of devastating, with an estimated 8,000 individuals losing their lives or going missing, while another 90,000 were left homeless due to the widespread destruction of properties. In the aftermath of this tragedy, President Ferdinand Marcos enacted revisions to the National Building Code, requiring structures to be resilient enough to withstand an Intensity 8 earthquake, emphasizing the importance of preparedness in earthquake-prone areas.

2. Luzon Earthquake (1990)

The Luzon Earthquake of 1990, often referred to as the Baguio Earthquake, struck Central Luzon and the Cordillera region of the Philippines on July 16, 1990, with a formidable magnitude of 7.8. Baguio City bore the brunt of this massive tremor, and the consequences were devastating. The earthquake resulted in nearly 2,000 casualties and widespread property damage. It rippled through the affected areas, trapping people in the rubble and toppling several buildings, including the six-story Christian College of the Philippines in Cabanatuan and the 12-story Hyatt Terraces in Baguio.

Despite heroic rescue efforts, some individuals trapped in the debris for days succumbed to dehydration. The aftermath of the Luzon Earthquake underscored the importance of earthquake preparedness and building resilience in a region prone to seismic activity.

3. Lanao Earthquake (1955)

The Lanao Earthquake of 1955 struck the province of Lanao del Sur in Mindanao on April 1st with a magnitude of 7.5. This tectonic earthquake proved to be highly destructive, resulting in the loss of approximately 400 lives. It caused significant damage to houses and a mosque in the municipality of Tugaya, as well as wharves in Zamboanga and Pagadian. Notably, this earthquake is considered a precursor to a 6.0-magnitude earthquake that would hit the same province in April 2017, emphasizing the region’s susceptibility to seismic activity.

Lanao del Sur is situated in one of the most seismically active areas in the Philippines, Central Mindanao, with the western extension of the Mindanao Fault running through it. The 1955 Lanao Earthquake serves as a historical reminder of the ongoing seismic risk faced by regions in the Philippines, necessitating continuous preparedness efforts.

4. Casiguran Earthquake (1968)

The Casiguran Earthquake, which occurred on August 2, 1968, is remembered as one of the most significant seismic events in the Philippines. With a magnitude of 7.3, it was a powerful earthquake that originated near the town of Casiguran in Aurora Province. This earthquake was particularly destructive because it was the first time in two decades that the country experienced an earthquake of such intensity.

The impact of the earthquake was widespread, affecting a significant part of the Greater Manila Area, especially the districts of Binondo and Escolta, where several buildings sustained extensive structural damage. The most notable tragedy was the collapse of the six-story Ruby Tower in Binondo, resulting in numerous casualties and injuries. The disaster highlighted the importance of earthquake preparedness and prompted a reevaluation of building codes to ensure that structures could withstand such tremors in the future.

5. Bohol Earthquake (2013)

The Bohol Earthquake, which struck on October 15, 2013, with a magnitude of 7.2, had a profound impact on the central region of the Philippines. Its epicenter was located in Bohol, but its effects were felt as far as Southern Mindanao. The earthquake resulted in a tragic loss of more than 200 lives and caused extensive damage to both historical and modern infrastructure. Perhaps most notably, it led to the destruction of century-old churches, some of which were designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The quake also damaged over 79,000 homes, schools, roads, and public buildings, with 14,500 of them collapsing entirely. In addition to the immediate devastation, the Bohol Earthquake had long-term repercussions as it occurred just weeks before Typhoon Yolanda swept through the region, diverting resources and slowing down the recovery efforts in Bohol. This earthquake served as a stark reminder of the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters and the need for robust disaster preparedness and response measures.

6. Mindoro Earthquake (1994)

On November 15, 1994, the residents of Oriental Mindoro were jolted awake at 3:15 AM by a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.1. This earthquake had devastating consequences, particularly due to the subsequent tsunami it triggered. Five minutes after the main quake, tsunami waves as tall as 8.5 meters swept across the coastal areas of Baco Islands and Calapan, destroying 1,530 houses and leading to the tragic deaths of 78 people. Tragically, nearly half of the casualties were children who drowned in the tsunami.

The earthquake also caused liquefaction, damaging roads, bridges, piers, and other infrastructure, with an estimated economic cost of PHP 156 million. The Mindoro Earthquake was a somber reminder of the potential consequences of seismic activity in coastal regions and highlighted the importance of tsunami preparedness and early warning systems in vulnerable areas.

7. Panay Earthquake (1990)

The Panay Earthquake of 1990 was a devastating seismic event that struck the Panay Island region of the Philippines on June 14, 1990. With a magnitude of 7.1, this earthquake had its epicenter located at Culasi, Antique Province, and its impact was deeply felt throughout the islands of Panay. This catastrophe resulted in the loss of eight lives and caused 41 injuries. The earthquake had particularly destructive effects on the town of Culasi, where it toppled approximately 15% of residential houses.

Commercial buildings, including warehouses and banks, also sustained damage. Furthermore, schools, churches, bridges, and government buildings were not spared, with the estimated cost of the damage amounting to PHP 30 million. The Panay Earthquake serves as a poignant reminder of the seismic activity in the Philippines, highlighting the need for preparedness and resilient infrastructure in earthquake-prone areas.

8. Ragay Gulf Earthquake (1973)

The Ragay Gulf Earthquake of 1973 was a significant seismic event that rocked the town of Calauag, Quezon, and its surrounding areas on March 17, 1973. With a magnitude of 7.0, this earthquake had its epicenter located along the Ragay Gulf, which lies in the Bicol Peninsula in Southern Luzon, Philippines. The earthquake caused substantial devastation, resulting in the destruction of more than 360 residential houses in Calauag, Quezon. Tragically, this disaster led to the loss of 14 lives and approximately 100 injuries.

The shaking from the earthquake was felt primarily in Luzon and Northern Visayas. The region around Ragay Gulf has a history of destructive earthquakes, with numerous significant seismic events recorded from 1738 to 1984. This earthquake also had an economic impact, uprooting and destroying many young coconut trees in an area known for its coconut production. The Ragay Gulf Earthquake underscored the seismic vulnerability of certain regions in the Philippines and highlighted the importance of disaster preparedness and resilient agriculture practices in mitigating the impact of such natural disasters.

9. Negros Oriental Earthquake (2012)

In 2012, Negros Oriental, an island province in the Philippines, experienced a powerful earthquake that left a significant impact on the region. This seismic event occurred on February 6, 2012, and had a magnitude of 6.9. The earthquake’s epicenter was situated near the municipalities of Tayasan and Jimalalud in Negros Oriental. One of the most devastating consequences of this quake was a massive landslide that occurred in the mountainous areas of the province.

It was this landslide that resulted in the majority of casualties, as around 29 people were buried under tons of soil and debris. In total, 52 people lost their lives due to the earthquake, while around 112 individuals sustained injuries. The tremor also triggered tsunami alerts, leading to the evacuation of coastal areas, although no significant tsunamis occurred.

The Negros Oriental Earthquake of 2012 caused extensive damage to infrastructure, including houses, roads, and bridges. Approximately 15,787 houses were either completely or partially damaged, and several bridges became impassable. A section of the Dumaguete North road was also affected by rockfalls, cracks, and landslides. This earthquake serves as a poignant reminder of the Philippines’ susceptibility to seismic activity and the importance of preparedness and disaster mitigation measures in earthquake-prone regions.

10. Palimbang Earthquake (2002)

In March 2002, the town of Palimbang in Mindanao, Philippines, experienced a significant earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8. The epicenter of this earthquake was located near Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, and it was generated by the subduction of tectonic plates along the Cotabato Trench. While the earthquake’s magnitude was not as high as some others on this list, it had a notable impact on the affected areas. The town of Palimbang itself bore the brunt of the seismic activity, and the earthquake caused considerable destruction in the provinces of Sarangani, North Cotabato, and South Cotabato as well. The earthquake resulted in eight fatalities and left around 7,684 families affected.

The Palimbang Earthquake in 2002 damaged various types of infrastructure, including public markets, churches, highways, schools, and residential houses. Additionally, there were reports of the sea receding about 150 meters from the shoreline, indicating the possibility of an impending tsunami. Fortunately, the water returned without causing significant damage. This earthquake underscores the need for earthquake preparedness and resilience measures, particularly in regions prone to seismic activity like Mindanao, where being ready for such events is crucial for minimizing loss of life and property.

What Safety Measures Can Individuals Take During an Earthquake?

Taking safety measures during an earthquake is crucial to minimize the risk of injury and protect yourself and others. Here are some key safety measures individuals can take during an earthquake:

1. “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”: One of the most important safety actions during an earthquake is to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” When you feel the shaking, immediately drop to the ground to prevent being knocked over. Take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture, such as a table or desk, and hold on until the shaking stops. This helps protect you from falling objects and debris.

2. Stay Away from Windows: Move away from windows, mirrors, glass, and other items that may shatter during the quake. Broken glass can cause serious injuries.

3. Avoid Doorways: Contrary to popular belief, doorways are not the safest place to be during an earthquake. Instead, seek shelter under sturdy furniture or against an interior wall. Doorways may swing violently and cause harm.

4. Stay Indoors: If you are indoors, stay there. Do not run outside during the shaking, as falling debris poses a significant risk. If you are already outside, move to an open area away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and utility wires.

5. Protect Your Head and Neck: If there is no furniture to take cover under, protect your head and neck with your arms and seek shelter against an interior wall. Use pillows, cushions, or any available soft material to shield yourself from falling objects.

6. Turn Off Appliances: If you have the time and can safely do so, turn off gas, electricity, and water supplies. This helps reduce the risk of fires and utility-related accidents.

7. Be Prepared for Aftershocks: After the initial quake, aftershocks may follow. Be prepared for these smaller tremors and continue to take safety precautions.

8. Do Not Use Elevators: Avoid using elevators during an earthquake as they may become stuck. Use stairs instead.

9. Keep Calm and Stay Informed: Stay as calm as possible during the earthquake. Listen for emergency information through battery-powered radios or your mobile device if possible. Follow local authorities’ instructions for safety and evacuation if necessary.

10. Check for Hazards After the Quake: After the shaking stops, check for hazards such as gas leaks, damaged electrical wires, and structural damage in your home or building. Be cautious when using candles or open flames, as there may be gas leaks.

Remember that earthquake safety measures can save lives. Being prepared and knowing how to react during an earthquake is essential for personal safety and the safety of your loved ones.

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