1983 Luzon earthquake

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1983 Luzon earthquake
Date August 17, 1983
Magnitude 6.5 ML
Epicenter 18°14′N 120°52′E / 18.23°N 120.86°E / 18.23; 120.86Coordinates: 18°14′N 120°52′E / 18.23°N 120.86°E / 18.23; 120.86
Areas affected The Philippines
Casualties 16 killed
47 injured

The 1983 Luzon earthquake struck the Philippines on August 17. It registered 6.5 on the Richter scale, killing 16 people and injuring 47. Seven towns were damaged, several buildings collapsed, and electricity was cut off in Laoag. Features like sand volcanoes and cracks formed during the quake.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, churchgoers from the Philippines prayed to God for forgiveness. The downed buildings were searched.

Damage and casualties[edit]

The earthquake struck at 8:18 PM[1] and registered Richter scale magnitude 6.5.[2] It was the most powerful earthquake to strike the Philippines in seven years. Shaking lasted 20 seconds and damaged 7 towns extensively,[1] its greatest damage occurring near Pasuquin, Laoag, Sarrat, and Batac in the Ilocos Norte province.[2]

Early reports claimed the earthquake killed 17 and injured 80 people,[1] but these numbers were later revised to 16 and 47, respectively.[2] A four-storey building collapsed, and the salesmen inside waited as long as 17 hours to be rescued; one man was rescued only to die in the hospital. Two or three other buildings also collapsed, including one in San Nicolas filled with people. Churches were damaged in Bacarra, Vintar, and Sarrat; the Sarrat church was the site of the wedding of Ferdinand Marcos' daughter Irene, and it toppled, destroying its altar and the orchestra loft from the wedding.[1] A 300-year-old statue of Saint Monica fell apart, and its head landed on the ground intact.[1] The earthquake cut off electricity in Laoag,[3] and downed a bridge elsewhere.[4]

Sand volcanoes and cracks as long as 24 m (79 ft) formed,[3] and as it ruptured, soil liquefaction and landslides occurred. A tsunami was reported but never confirmed.[2] Shaking from the earthquake also extended to Manila.[2]


The earthquake occurred exactly seven years after the 1976 Moro Gulf earthquake, which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale and caused 8000 deaths.[5]

Local authorities listed the 1983 earthquake at Richter scale magnitude 5.7,[3] but the United States Geological Survey still lists it at 6.5.[2] It was assigned a Rossi–Forel scale rating of 7, indicating the potential to be damaging.[4]


In the destroyed church in Bacarra, church members wrote notes asking God for forgiveness and believing it was his warning.[1] Reports from Manila's radio stations claimed many casualties, and a news agency reported that there were at least 100 people trapped in a downed building. The wrecks of collapsed buildings were searched, and the dead were removed from the rubble. There were two aftershocks following the main shock.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Philippines' earthquake kills 17 and injures 80". Calgary Herald. Huntingford, Guy. August 18, 1983. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Significant Earthquakes of the World: 1983". United States Geological Survey. January 5, 2010. Retrieved August 17, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Quake claims 13; two die in typhoon". Calgary Herald. Huntingford, Guy. August 18, 1983. 
  4. ^ a b "Philippine Quake Kills Two". Herald-Journal. August 18, 1983. 
  5. ^ "Historic World Earthquakes". United States Geological Survey. March 6, 2013. Retrieved August 18, 2013.