The strong quake destroyed the belfry of Basilica del Sto. Nino in Cebu. (Photo: Fr. Tito Soquiño, OSA)

MANILA, Oct. 15, 2013Several Catholic churches in Cebu suffered structural damage as a strong earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 shook Central Philippines at 8:12 a.m. today. 

Msgr. Marnel Mejia, Cebu’s Social Communications director told CBCP News the Basilica Minore’s belfry has collapsed because of the powerful temblor. 

He added the St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Carcar City also suffered structural damage.  

“It is a heritage and historical place where old churches and homes still exist,” Msgr. Mejia explained. 

The St. William de Aquitane Parish church and convent also had sustained damages. 

“The assistant parish priest called and said the sacristy was severely damaged while its belfry may soon collapse,” Msgr. Mejia added.  He said the municipal mayor already cordoned the area from onlookers. 

The convent is inhabitable due to the possibility of structural collapse. 

A close-up photo of the destroyed belfry. (Photo: Fr. Tito Soquiño, OSA)

Meantime, Fr. Toti Sioquino, OAR, called on the military and police to prevent ordinary people from gathering “anting-anting” or amulets from the belfry that fell earlier today.  

He said he fears aftershocks may also affect what remains of its belfry. 

Msgr. Mejia added that the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral has also been closed to the public until further notice. 

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology reported the 7.2 magnitude earthquake at 8:12:31 a.m. today which was described as “tectonic” in origin.  Its epicenter has been located some two kilometers south of Carmen town in Bohol province. 

Tagbilaran City registered Intensity VII, Intensity VI in Hinigaran, Negros Occidental, Intensity V in Iloilo City and La Carlota in Negros Occidental, Intensity IV in Masbate City and Roxas City including San Jose and Culasi in Antique and Guihulngan in Negros Oriental. Davao City has an Intensity III earthquake. (CBCPNews)