The Philippines has been rocked by three lethal earthquakes in recent weeks across the island of Mindanao in the south, killing 17, injuring hundreds and dislocating over 140,000.
That may be just the tip of a bigger disaster, Philippine seismologists say, amid official warnings that temblors will continue to jolt the southern Philippines until at least the Christmas season. The scientists say the region is now in the grip of an “earthquake swarm” that could last for months.
Indeed, fears are rising that the worst is yet to come, with some seismologists drawing parallels to the country’s deadliest ever earthquake in 1976 in Mindanao, a 7.9 Richter scale temblor that caused a tsunami that killed 8,000 across a 450 mile stretch in Mindanao.
A dramatic shift of the Cotabato trench triggered that disastrous quake. Scientists have now recorded new shifting movements in the trench, while stressing there is no fail-proof way to predict when earthquakes will strike.
Following the October 31 6.5 quake that jolted large parts of Mindanao, state seismologists have also been closely monitoring the Makilala-Malungon fault that they warned could potentially cause a disastrous 7.2 magnitude quake.
The Philippines lies in the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of intense seismic activity around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes are recorded.