Residents of flood-hit Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities worried because of the aftershocks and tsunami warning caused by the 6.9-magnitude earthquake that hit several areas of Visayas and Mindanao before noon Monday, an official said.

“Natakot sila, especially ‘yung mga nasa high-rise, at noong magkaroon ng warning to avoid going to the shorelines,” Ana Caneda, head of the Office of Civil Defense in Northern Mindanao, said in a phone interview.

Caneda made the remark when asked what were the effects of the quake in her region, where more than 1,200 people got killed in floods brought by tropical storm Sendong and worsened by a high tide last December.

She said no damages or casualties were reported, though residents, many of whom are still “traumatized” by the recent disaster, worried anew.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) issued a “tsunami alert no. 2” shortly after the earthquake, but withdrew it around 2:30 p.m.

“We in the office all had to go on air to tell them (residents) to keep calm and give them right information about the warning, we were over all radio stations,” Caneda said.

In the aftermath of the storm, government and private health workers launched “psychological intervention” programs for flood victims, especially those who lost several family members, homes, and livelihood.

A case of suicide occurred inside an evacuation center in Cagayan de Oro City several days after the storm.

‘State of panic’

In Cebu City, aftershocks and false information about the government’s tsunami warning No. 2 put people in a “state of panic,” Mayor Michael Rama said in a phone interview.

People went out of offices, homes, malls and rushed to the streets after hearing that seawater already entered parts of the city proper, Rama said.

“Parang nag-Sinulog uli ‘yung mga tao dito, naglabasan ng mga building at nagpunta sa kalye dahil dun sa information na ‘yung tubig ay umabot na sa city proper,” Senior Supt. Erson Digal, Central Visayas regional police operations chief, said.

“We are advising them to keep calm because these are false information though there was really a tsunami warning,” he said.

In the quake-hit areas of Negros Oriental, several people refused to go home because they fear the aftershocks and what these might to their homes that may have already been damaged, Col. Francisco Zosimo Patrimonio, commander of the Army’s 302nd Brigade, said.

“The mayor of Guihulngan asked us if we could provide tents to temporarily shelter those who don’t want to go home yet, and food,” Patrimonio said.

Phivolcs has so far listed 11 aftershocks since the 6.9 temblor shook Cebu and Negros Islands 11: 49 a.m.

The latest aftershock, which had a magnitude of 3.8, occurred around 8:30 p.m. The strongest, a 6.2-magnitude tremor, occurred 6:10 p.m., Phivolcs said in a report on its website. (John Roson)

– end –