A magnitude 6.3 earthquake centered in Kidapawan City, in Mindanao left five persons dead, injured dozens of others, damaged several public and commercial buildings and caused power outages in some areas Wednesday night.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that the fatalities include three in Davao del Sur, one in Datu Paglas town in Maguindanao and one in North Cotabato.
The quake victims in Davao del Sur were pinned to death by a landslide in Barangay Malawanit, Magsaysay town, where 18 others were injured.
The Office of Civil Defense-Davao region identified them as Argen Abundo, 22, nine-month-old Jay Lakay, and two-year-old Chris Joy Roda.
NDRRMC spokesman Mark Timbal identified the other fatalities as Jhonavie Sendad who was pinned down in a collapsed wall in M’lang, North Cotabato and Tony Panangulon, 50 who suffered cardiac arrest in Maguindanao.
Fields reports said at least 89 persons were injured—21 of them in the landslide in Magsaysay town in Davao del Sur and 68 in SOCCSKSARGEN.
The tremor also damaged a number of buildings including the Gaisano mall in General Santos City, which caught fire few minutes after the shaking, said Bong Dacera, the city’s provincial disaster risk reduction officer.
At least eight commercial buildings, including SM General Santos and Veransa Mall, three hospitals and 17 houses were also damaged.
Jorimae Balmediano, information officer of the Office of Civil Defense-SOCCSKSARGEN said hospital staffs evacuated patients to open spaces for safety, while patients in serious condition had been transferred to another hospital for continued medical attention.
Government buildings—the Sangguniang Bayan in M’lang, the municipal hall of Carmen, and Makilala Fire Station, all in North Cotabato, were also damaged.
In Davao del Sur, the Magsaysay town hall and four schools in Magsaysay and Digos City were damaged. Fifteen houses were also damaged in Magsaysay.
The epicenter of the quake, of tectonic origin, was located at 22 km southeast of Tulunan, North Cotabato. It had a depth of eight kilometers.
Intensity VII shaking was felt in Tulunan, M’lang, and Kidapawan.
Department of Energy Assistant Secretary Redentor Delola said the powerful earthquake has badly affected the Mount Apo Geothermal Plant in Kidapawan City.
“All electric utilities connected at Mt. Apo Geothermal—Kidapawan, part of North and South Cotabato and even Davao Region have been badly affected with other areas experiencing power outages,” Delola said.
Few minutes after the quake, a strong aftershock of intensity 5 hit Kidapawan for few seconds, prompting residents to stay outside of their homes.
All affected residents were told to temporarily stay in four open spaces to protect [them] from potential aftershocks,” said Digos City Mayor Joseph Cagas
Authorities said three children were among those killed in the earthquake.
Two of them were reported killed were in houses that collapsed, while a mother and her five-year-old son died after being buried in a landslide, local authorities said.
Residents evacuated homes and buildings across the Mindanao region.
Rescue and local officials said there were no immediate reports of deaths elsewhere in Mindanao, and rescue official Anthony Allada told local television that 20 people were treated for injuries in the town of Magsaysay, near the epicenter.
The quake was 14 kilometers deep and was followed by at least two aftershocks, according to the United States Geological Survey.
“It was the most powerful earthquake I have ever experienced,” Sara Duterte, mayor of the largest Mindanao city of Davao, and daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte told local television.
An elderly man was treated for injuries after being struck by a falling object during the evacuation of a Davao mall, local TV reported.
Jerome Barranco, civil defense officer for the region, said several people were also injured in the city of Kidapawan as a result of falling debris.
In General Santos, television footage showed firemen battling a blaze that engulfed the three-storey Gaisano shopping mall.
It was not known if there were still people inside the building, which was evacuated as the quake struck.
The blaze was still raging more than three hours later despite the efforts of nearly 100 firemen, fire officer Redentor Batulan said.
Coastal residents of Davao fled their homes in fear of a tsunami, but rescue workers were trying to convince them to return as no warning was issued, city civil defense chief Rodrigo Bustillo told local television.
“Our volunteers are out to calm the people and tell them there is no tsunami,” Bustillo added.
Chief Philippine government seismologist Renato Solidum said there was no risk of a tsunami because the quake occurred inland, but he advised residents to check their homes for possible damage.
“We ran out of the police station, and we also let the inmates at the municipal jail out,” patrolwoman Celina Sarte said by telephone from the town of Bansalan.
She said the 10 prisoners were put in handcuffs outside moments later.
The Palace has tasked all government agencies to respond and provide immediate assistance to those affected by the strong earthquake.
“We ask the public to remain calm but vigilant and we urge them to refrain from spreading disinformation that may cause undue alarm, panic, and stress to many people,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
The Department of Energy, meanwhile, said the power situation in Mindanao was back to normal.
The National Electrification Administration reported that as of 8 a.m. Thursday, all electric cooperatives that experienced power interruptions due to the tremor were back to normal operations.
“The power transmission backbone in Mindanao remains intact,” the Energy Department said.
Authorities reported a second 5.2 magnitude termor in Davao Oriental on Thursday but said the two quakes were not related.
“The tremor in Davao Oriental was triggered by the movement of the Philippine Trench, while the first one was due to the horizontal movement of one of the four to five faults in the Cotabato area,” Solidum said.
The epicenter of the Davao Oriental quake was located east of Manay in this province with a depth of 120 kilometers.
As of 10 a.m. Thursday, Solidum said Phivolcs recorded at least 274 aftershocks from 1.5 magnitude to 5.5 magnitude due to the 6.3-magnitude quake.
“Almost all parts of Mindanao experienced the quake [and its aftershocks],” he said.
Solidum said the Cotabato tremor was not that damaging except for those that felt intensity 6 and 7. With MJ Blancaflor, AFP, and PNA