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Monday, February 6, 2012

What was I doing when an earthquake rocked Cebu on Feb. 6, 2012


It was just supposed to be a typical Monday when suddenly at around lunchtime an earthquake jolted Cebu. I was in Caravan Coffee wrapping things up before going to a meeting at 1 pm. My table was shaking and a foreigner told me that it would be a good idea to get out of the café. We did and we saw people from the other establishments going out as well.
After the initial tremor, I tried calling some friends and loved ones. I cannot seem to get in. I was able to receive and send some text messages though.  After a few minutes, I decided to drive and listen to the news.
I was planning to go to Summit Circle for a meeting and I decided to pass by Ayala to withdraw some money. I saw the people outside the Pag-Ibig building.  I realized that it would be scary to be in a tall building during an earthquake. Just imagine you are in the 40th floor, it would really be swinging hard. Going down the stairs might feel like you are running a marathon for your life.
After getting some money, I heard from the news that classes have been suspended in many schools and parents were told to pick up their children. I decided to skip the meeting which probably would have been cancelled anyway and pick up my wife in school.
During my drive, I learned about Tsunami warnings and I got more information about the magnitude 6.8 quake.  Cebu and Negros were under Tsunami Warning 2. For people who do not know the meaning of the warning, it sounds harsh. Tsunami Warning No.2 is basically a precaution for people living in coastal area to stay 20 meters away for the sea. Waves of as high as 1 meter maximum could occur. The warning was issued to Cebu and Negros more specifically in the western coast of Cebu island and the Eastern coast of Negros.
After picking up my wife, we just went home. At around 2 pm, my mother in law called asking if I heard the news about tsunamis. She said some are panicking because some crazy people are spreading news about water in Carbon and Colon. I told her, it is not going to happen. I listened to the news if there truly is water in those areas. Well, the news only talked about the panic of some people because of the false information.  It is quiet amusing why some people make up stories to cause some panic. I felt bad for those who ran towards higher ground after hearing the rumor.

Here is the Mercalli intensity scale for earthquakes from Wikipedia:

I. InstrumentalGenerally not felt by people unless in favorable conditions.
II. WeakFelt only by a few people at best, especially on the upper floors of buildings. Delicately suspended objects may swing.
III. SlightFelt quite noticeably by people indoors, especially on the upper floors of buildings. Many do not recognize it as an earthquake. Standing motor cars may rock slightly. Vibration similar to the passing of a truck. Duration estimated.
IV. ModerateFelt indoors by many people, outdoors by few people during the day. At night, some awaken. Dishes, windows, doors disturbed; walls make cracking sound. Sensation like heavy truck striking building. Standing motor cars rock noticeably. Dishes and windows rattle alarmingly.
V. Rather StrongFelt inside by most, may not be felt by some outside in non-favorable conditions. Dishes and windows may break and large bells will ring. Vibrations like large train passing close to house.
VI. StrongFelt by all; many frightened and run outdoors, walk unsteadily. Windows, dishes, glassware broken; books fall off shelves; some heavy furniture moved or overturned; a few instances of fallen plaster. Damage slight.
VII. Very StrongDifficult to stand; furniture broken; damage negligible in building of good design and construction; slight to moderate in well-built ordinary structures; considerable damage in poorly built or badly designed structures; some chimneys broken. Noticed by people driving motor cars.
VIII. DestructiveDamage slight in specially designed structures; considerable in ordinary substantial buildings with partial collapse. Damage great in poorly built structures. Fall of chimneys, factory stacks, columns, monuments, walls. Heavy furniture moved.
IX. ViolentGeneral panic; damage considerable in specially designed structures, well designed frame structures thrown out of plumb. Damage great in substantial buildings, with partial collapse. Buildings shifted off foundations.
X. IntenseSome well built wooden structures destroyed; most masonry and frame structures destroyed with foundation. Rails bent.
XI. ExtremeFew, if any masonry structures remain standing. Bridges destroyed. Rails bent greatly.
XII. CataclysmicTotal destruction – Everything is destroyed. Lines of sight and level distorted. Objects thrown into the air. The ground moves in waves or ripples. Large amounts of rock move position. Landscape altered, or levelled by several meters. In some cases, even the routes of rivers are changed.


Here is the video of false tsunami scare: