'We were screaming.... Everyone was crying': Tulunan residents recall earthquake
COTABATO, Philippines – It was a scene of total chaos in Tulunan, Cotabato, when a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck at 9:04 am Tuesday, October 29.
The old municipal hall's wall totally collapsed, while at the current municipal hall, the ceilings collapsed and concrete pieces fell from the third floor to the lower floors. Glasses scattered inside the hall, steel cabinets toppled over, and furnitures were broken to pieces. The walls were cracked, damaged beyond repair.
Marivic Ballarta, a municipal worker, said that the earthquake was so strong that running towards the door of their office was almost impossible.
"We were screaming, people are scampering from all directions, the cabinets are toppling on the floor as the ceiling collapsed," Ballarta said.
Claudine Peñafiel, also a municipal worker, said that the "duck, cover, and hold" protocol was impossible to do as the furnitures vibrated so much and all that everyone could think of was heading for the door.
"Everyone was crying, it was scary, everything was thrown to the floor, water dispensers collapsed, the water on the ground, the power went out, it was traumatic," Ballarta said.
According to Tulunan Vice Mayor Maureene Villamor, in a span of two weeks, this town suffered through two massive earthquakes: Tuesday's earthquake, and the magnitude 6.3 earthquake on October 16.
"We estimate the damage on October 16 at around P300 million, and the quake yesterday at P500 million," Villamor said.
For Tuesday's earthquake, Villamor said there were reported 1,864 affected families, 45 injured individuals, and one casualty identified as Marichelle Morla who was 3 months pregnant. Morla was struck by a fallen tree as she was about to exit their house.
Tulunan Councilor Aba Sernal said that most of the affected barangays Daig, Magbokm, and Paraiso are considered geographically isolated areas.
In Barangay Daig, one building of Daig Elementary School collapsed and another was partially damaged due to the earthquake. The roads leading to the barangay suffered cracks, while houses made of light materials as well as the barangay gym collapsed. A house that was under construction also buckled in the earthquake.
In Barangay Paraiso, some old houses collapsed and the barangay hall also suffered damage.
Records from the Tulunan Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO) showed that there were 922 totally damaged structures, 457 buildings considered at risk, and 484 structures still undergoing evaluation.
As of 12 pm Wednesday, October 30, a total of 344 aftershocks were recorded by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology or Phivolcs.
Municipal workers in Tulunan have set up a temporary working space at the open ground outside the municipal hall. Relief goods are being repacked for distribution, and according to Villamor, they are waiting for the request of the barangays for the distribution.
Here are other images from the Tulunan MDRRMO: