A magnitude 6.6 earthquake jolted Southern Mindanao Tuesday, claiming the lives of at least six persons and injuring hundreds of others. Two students remained missing beneath the rubble as rescue workers sifted through the remnants of dozens of collapsed structures.
The tremor had again sent thousands of people in Cotabato, Davao del Sur and nearby provinces into a panic while reeling as they were still realing from last week’s 6.4-magnitude quake.READ: 6.3-quake jolts North Cotabato
Among the dead were a 15-year-old student in Magsaysay, Davao del Sur who was pinned down by a collapsed concrete wall; a 66-year-old man in the town Koronadal; a pregnant woman felled by a tree in Tulanan, both in Cotabato, and a 36-year-old female employee of a multinational company in Digos City.
The two consecutive tremors have so far left 11 people dead, most of them in Cotabato province, the epicenter of the 6.4 quake that struck Mindanao on Oct. 16.
In Tulunan town, Mayor Reuel Limbungan said 90 percent of concrete and semi-concrete structures, most of them situated in upland villages of Daig, Mambog and Paraiso were damaged.
“The quake was strong. If last week’s quake was magnitude 6.3, this was stronger,” Tulunan town Mayor Reuel Limbungan said in Filipino. “All classes have been canceled, even in private schools. The hospitals had to evacuate their patients.”
Students who went home were traumatized by the sight of their injured teachers crawling to safety from the damaged school building, the mayor added.
READ: Kidapawan under state of calamity
The entire town is without power.
He said all schools, gymnasiums, churches, health centers, Barangay halls, including a three-story building were badly damaged, while 80 percent of structures bore cracks.
“All residents are outside of their houses, afraid to go in for fear of another strong quake,” Limbungan said.
Limbungan sought help from the national government.
He said they needed light materials for roofing and lumber to rebuilt their school buildings.
He added that they would put up tents to house residents who are afraid to go back to their homes.
In Davao del Sur, PDRRMO officer Christopher Tan said residents in barangays in Tagaytay and Upper Mala were told to evacuate their homes due to signs of a landslide.
He said a portion of a five-story school building in Digos City collapsed.
In Digos City, Mayor Joseph Cagas reported several landslides in upland villages.
Terrified locals ran into the streets after the shallow quake, which hit the island of Mindanao as schools and offices opened for the day.
The shaking lasted up to a minute in some areas, damaging homes, multi-story buildings and classrooms in a region where hundreds are still displaced by a quake that killed at least five earlier this month.
READ: 5 dead in Mindanao quake
The Philippines suffers regular tremors as part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
A teenage boy was crushed by a falling wall as he tried to escape his school in Magsaysay, the town said. Though other students were injured in “stampede” to escape the building, they survived.
A collapsing wall in another town, Koronadal, killed a 66-year-old man, local authorities said.
At least 50 people were hurt by falling debris, including some seven pupils and teachers hurt escaping their collapsed elementary school.
Locals were awed by the power of the quake, which was shallow and thus potentially more destructive.
“Buildings were not just moving, they were swaying,” Gadi Sorilla, a doctor at a hospital in Tulunan, a town about 25 kilometers from the epicenter, said.
“I asked God for help,” he said, adding the hospital had quickly received about 10 patients, some with head injuries.
Rescue teams have begun fanning out to assess the damage to the region, where electricity and phone services were knocked out by the power of the quake.
The US Geological Survey said the initial 6.6-magnitude quake was followed by a number of smaller shakes, including one measuring 5.8.
The continuing tremors were causing anxiety on the ground, with people refusing to go back inside buildings for fear of being caught in any resulting collapse.
Schools across the area have been shuttered as a precaution.
The area is still suffering the effects of a 6.4-magnitude quake that hit less than two weeks ago, killing at least five people and damaging dozens of buildings.
Residents fled homes across the Mindanao region and a mall caught fire in the city of General Santos shortly after the quake struck on Oct. 16.
“We still have 570 individuals in evacuation centers [from the previous quake] and with this quake, we are expecting more evacuees,” said Zaldy Ortiz, an officer with a local emergency rescue team.
One of the deadliest quakes to hit the Philippines recently was in April, causing the collapse of a building near the capital Manila.
At least 16 people were killed when the building pancaked in the worst-hit Pampanga province.
High-rise structures in the capital swayed after the April quake, leaving some with large cracks in their walls.
Thousands of travelers were stranded after aviation authorities shut down the secondary Clark Airport, which is located on the site of the former US military installation that lies about an hour’s drive north of the capital.
Intensity 7 was felt in Cotabato’s Tulunan, Makilala and Kidapawan City, and Sarangani’s Malungon, while Davao City, Koronadal City and Cagayan de Oro City experienced intensity 6.
Intensity 5 was felt in South Cotabato’s Tampakan, Surallah and Tupi, and Sarangani’s Alabel, and intensity 4 was felt in General Santos City and Bukidnon’s Kalilangan.
PHIVOLCS director Renato Solidum told those affected by the quake to brace for more aftershocks but allayed fears of a tsunami.
President Rodrigo Duterte might visit quake-hit Central Mindanao before leaving for Thailand for the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit, Malacañang said Tuesday.
READ: Quake forces 1.9-million students to skip classes
The national government has also been closely monitoring the situation in Mindanao, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
“The national government, through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the Office of Civil Defense, is closely monitoring the situation in Mindanao following the strong earthquake that happened this morning,” Panelo said.
The Palace official also asked the public to remain calm and vigilant as aftershocks are still expected to occur.
“We urge them to refrain from spreading disinformation that may cause undue alarm, panic and stress to many people,” Panelo said.
“We also urge them to monitor developments through the alerts and bulletins of official government channels,” he added.
He said the responsible government agencies and local government units are undertaking rapid damage assessment to properly assess the situation and coordinate rescue and relief operations. With AFP
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