Deadly and powerful Philippines quake damages buildings

  • 11/02/2017
philippines earthquake
Nearly 100 aftershocks have been felt (US Geological Survey)

Rescuers are combing through cracked buildings looking for more casualties after a powerful earthquake killed at least six people and injured more than 120 others in the southern Philippines.

The magnitude 6.5 quake roused residents from sleep in Surigao del Norte province late on Friday (local time), prompting hundreds to flee their homes.

It was centred about 14km northwest of the provincial capital of Surigao at a relatively shallow depth of 10km, said Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Seismology and Volcanology.

Nearly 100 aftershocks have been felt, officials said.

Evacuation centres accommodated wary residents overnight but many had returned home by Saturday, Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said.

Solidum said the quake was set off by movement in a segment of the Philippine fault, which sits in the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where quakes and volcanoes are common.

At least six people were killed, some after being hit by falling debris and concrete walls, provincial disaster-response official Gilbert Gonzales said.

At least 126 others were injured in Surigao city, about 700km southeast of Manila.

"Rescuers pulled out a man pinned by a collapsed wall in his house but he died and was no longer brought to a hospital," Gonzales said by telephone.

TV footage showed the facade of a number of buildings heavily cracked, their glass windows shattered with canopies and debris falling on parked cars on the street below.

Rescuers in one building are trying to break a collapsed concrete slab to check if there were people pinned underneath.

Roads had visible cracks in the coastal city and a bridge collapsed in an outlying town.

Rescue teams were checking for possible casualties in a village called Poknoy in the city of 140,500 people, officials said.

The city's airport was temporarily closed due to deep cracks in the runway, aviation officials said.

The last major earthquake that struck Surigao, an impoverished region also dealing with a communist insurgency, was in the 1800s, Solidum said.

A magnitude 7.7 quake killed nearly 2000 people on the northern island of Luzon in 1990.