Philippines earthquake: Powerful 6.8-magnitude quake strikes near Davao City

Joe Sommerlad
Rescue crew members look for trapped victims at a collapsed building at Padada market in Padada, Philippines, on 15 December 15 2019: Vincent Yaj Makiputin/Reuters

A powerful earthquake measuring 6.8-magnitude has struck the Philippines near the city of Davao, with one child reported to have died and 14 people been injured as tremors sent locals fleeing in panic from damaged homes and shopping centres.

The quake was centred 38 miles southwest of Davao on the island of Mindanao, at a depth of 28.2km, the US Geological Survey said, revising down the magnitude from an earlier reported 6.9.

Vincent Fernandez, the mayor of Matanao town in Davao del Sur province, told Radio DZMM that a six-year-old girl had died after a wall collapsed on her.

Speaking from an emergency shelter, Fernandez said his two-storey town hall had been badly damaged by the intense shaking, along with two bridges and several buildings already weakened by previous quakes.

"The shaking was different this time, it wasn't swaying. It's like a roller was rumbling by underneath," he added, before appealing for food packages and tents to be sent out.

Anthony Allada, public information officer of Magsaysay Town in the province, said none of those hurt were seriously wounded. Roads and buildings, including the local government office, were damaged and power was out in the town, he said.

“We don’t know what to do anymore. Do we respond first or attend to our families first?”, Allada told the same station.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who is from Davao, was in the city when the quake struck.

“He is ok. He and his daughter Kitty were in their house when the quake struck,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said. “First Lady Honeylet was on her way home when the ground trembled. She said her car was swaying. She is unhurt.”

Ricardo Jalad, who heads the Office of Civil Defence, said his department had been notified that a three-story building collapsed in Padada as the ground shook and that authorities were checking if people got trapped inside. The building housed a grocery store, he said.

Officials in Davao and Cotabato are checking the stability of school buildings and have suspended classes on Monday as a precaution.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned further damage from aftershocks could be expected. Two strong aftershocks of magnitude 5 and 5.7 centred north of General Santos City have already been recorded since the main tremor.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no tsunami threat from the quake.

DZMM reported power was also out in General Santos City, where patients at a local hospital were being evacuated.

Video footage of the latest quake posted on Twitter showed overhead electrical wires swaying and erupting in a shower of sparks.

Another video showed water sloshing out of a residential swimming pool.

One picture said to be from Padada, close to the epicentre in the province of Davao del Sur, showed a building collapsed onto a car and another people being rescued from beneath fallen rubble.

The Philippines sits on the geologically active Pacific “Ring of Fire” and experiences frequent tremors, including four strong quakes in October and November, which together killed at least 20 people.

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