7.0-Magnitude Earthquake in Philippines Kills at Least Five People

Sophie Hirsh - Author

Jul. 27 2022, Published 12:56 p.m. ET

An earthquake in the Philippines on Wednesday has been designated 7.0 in magnitude. The quake destroyed buildings, left many people injured, and tragically claimed the lives of at least five people.

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Additionally, the earthquake was so powerful that it could be felt all the way in China, Japan, and Taiwan. Here’s what we know about the earthquake so far, as well as a look into how climate change affects earthquakes.

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The Philippines earthquake today: This map shows the epicenter.

At 8:43 a.m. local time, an earthquake struck the Philippines, with the epicenter in Luzon, a large island in the northwest of the country, as per The New York Times. Luzon, where the capital city of Manila is located, is home to about 62 million people, representing more than half of the Philippines’ entire population.

Specifically, the quake’s epicenter was in Tayum, a mountainous part of Abra province, in the northwest region of Luzon, which is a much less populated area of the island, as per AP News. However, its effects were still felt far and wide.

Benjamin Abalos Jr., the country’s Interior Secretary, stated that the quake impacted people in 218 towns across 15 provinces, as per CNN. You can see a map of the Philippines' earthquake's epicenter on the USGS website.

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Many people shared accounts of feeling the ground shake, and videos show terrified people reacting to the earthquake. The quake caused walls to crack, buildings and houses to collapse, and rocks to cascade down mountains. Abalos Jr. added that there were reports of 58 landslides, and in Abra province, the quake tore down three bridges.

Additionally, hospitals in both Manila and Baguio City (which are about 3 hours and 40 minutes apart by car) had to evacuate staff and patients.

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The 7.0-magnitude earthquake killed at least six people.

The USGS and the ​​Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology both identified this as a 7.0-magnitude earthquake. The largest earthquake recorded in history occurred in Chile in 1960, with a magnitude of 9.5. And according to PhilAtlas, the Philippine’s most destructive quake occurred in 1976, when the Moro Gulf Earthquake struck southern Mindanao with a 7.9-magnitude, and killed around 8,000 people.

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As of publication, this week’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake killed at least five people, and hurt dozens of others, as per AP News.

According to Philippine News Agency, three of the people taken by the earthquake were in the Cordillera Autonomous Region at the time. Among those victims was 24-year-old Jefferson Basar of Quezon City, who was killed while working at a Rock Fall Netting project.

Additionally, a wall collapsed and hit a 23-year-old woman named Jonalyn Bilan Siganay on the head, after she ran outside in response to feeling the earthquake; she later died at the hospital. And 25-year-old Aron Pasiking Col-eteng of Baguio City was working in the basement of a building, and was hit by falling debris; he was later proclaimed dead at the hospital.

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What caused the Philippines earthquake? Was climate change a factor?

The ​​Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology attributed the cause of this major quake as “tectonic.”

Generally, an earthquake occurs when tectonic plates (which are always moving slowly) collide, tension builds, causing energy to be released in waves through the earth’s crust.

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But can climate change affect earthquakes, as it does with so many other “natural” disasters? Based on current research, it seems that climate change does not cause earthquakes as directly as it causes other weather events such as heat waves and floods — but what’s interesting is that some of the extreme weather events associated closely with the climate crisis can encourage earthquakes.

As per The Guardian, large earthquakes often follow heavy rainfall, hurricanes, typhoons. This is either due to flood waters lubricating fault planes, or landslide erosion reducing fault weights (cracks in the earth’s crust), which causes tectonic plates to move more smoothly, and therefore collide more easily, causing more earthquakes.

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