The death toll from a strong earthquake off the southern Philippines rose to seven on Saturday, while rescuers also searched for two people feared buried beneath a landslide.
The 6.7-magnitude quake that struck the Mindanao region mid-afternoon on Friday caused part of a shopping mall ceiling to collapse, triggered power cuts and sent people fleeing into the streets.
Falling debris from the mall in General Santos City crushed a woman to death, city police captain Ari Noel Cardos told Agence France-Presse.
Police earlier reported the death of a couple pinned under a collapsing concrete wall in General Santos.
Another person was killed by a falling steel structure in the municipality of Glan, in Sarangani province, police officer Paul Mesalido told AFP.
Firemen dug with shovels as they searched on Saturday for two members of a family feared buried beneath a landslide at a remote mountain village about four hours’ drive from Glan, rescuer Daniel Nocos told AFP.
In San Francisco, President Marcos Jr. said he was willing to go home earlier if there are measures that only he can execute following the earthquake in Mindanao, but later said there was no need for him to cut his six-day official visit to the United States short.
The President on Friday evening ordered all relevant government agencies to take action to secure the well-being of the public following the magnitude 6.8 earthquake.
Meanwhile, Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, who is with the President in the United States, has designated House Deputy Majority Leader Rep. Erwin Tulfo to assess the damage and identify resources required for relief and recovery.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development has also been placed on high alert following the earthquake.
Department of Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel has also mobilized a quick response team to provide relief to farmers and fisherfolk impacted by the tremor. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines reported some minor damages at the General Santos International Airport.
General Santos City suspended all classes in public and private schools from Nov. 18 to 21 “to ensure the safety and welfare of the people” after the quake. Mayor Lorelie Pacquiao also suspended work in government offices on Nov. 20. AFP with Charles Dantes, Maricel Cruz, Othel Campos, and Joel Zurbano The official National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in Manila reported a second death in Glan and another in the adjacent Malapatan municipality but gave no details.
In neighboring Davao Occidental province, an elderly man was killed by a large rock that rolled down a hill near his house, police officer Patrick Laurente said.
Two people were injured in General Santos, while 450 others were treated for panic and breathing difficulties, the disaster agency said.
The quake damaged 60 houses in four provinces as well as 32 roads and bridges in the region, rescuers said. With Charles Dantes, Maricel Cruz, Othel Campos, and Joel Zurbano