26 people hospitalized in Koronadal after strong aftershocks

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Some 26 people were brought to at least two hospitals in Koronadal City after suffering from hyperventilation following a series of strong aftershocks late Sunday afternoon.

Rolly Doane Aquino, operations and warning head of the South Cotabato Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, on Sunday night said employees and customers of the KCC Mall in Koronadal scampered out of the establishment due to a magnitude 4.8 earthquake around 4:55 p.m.

He said it was followed by a magnitude 3.7 quake at 5:05 p.m. and several other minor aftershocks.

The two major aftershocks, with the epicenter traced in Tulunan town in North Cotabato, were felt at intensities 5 and 3.9 in the area based on the earthquake intensity scale instrument installed at the PDRRMO office, Aquino said.

Citing their monitoring, he said 14 people were brought to the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital and 12 others to Allah Valley Medical Specialists Center Inc. due to the incident.

Aquino said most of them were employees of the KCC Mall who were assigned at the second to fourth floors of the establishment.

He said the shaking was quite strong in the upper levels of the mall and it caused panic among workers and customers.

“None of them had any injury but they suffered from hyperventilation (syndrome). These were due to anxiety attack as a result of the quake,” he told reporters.

Aquino said the condition of the patients eventually improved after receiving treatment and were all sent home.

He said they are still conducting further assessment on the incident, adding that among the initial interventions they are considering is the conduct of earthquake drills for employees of KCC Mall.

Aquino recalled that the same situation happened during the magnitude 6.3 earthquake last Oct. 16, which was felt at intensity 5.4 in the area.

“We are assessing why almost all of those affected were (KCC) mall workers. Only a few were customers,” he said.

Aquino urged residents to take the aftershocks seriously and be always ready with the precautionary measures in case they strike again.

He said everyone should remain calm and reduce their anxiety levels “so they can clearly think and act properly.”

On Sunday night, the PDRRMO recorded three more major aftershocks in the area based on reports from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

A magnitude 4.8 quake was recorded at 7:50 p.m., 4.9 at 7:59 p.m. and 4.3 at 8:20 p.m., with the epicenter traced in Tulunan, North Cotabato. These were felt at intensities 3 to 4 in the area.   Allen Estabillo / PNA – northboundasia.com