A strong earthquake hit southern Philippines and killed at least six people and injured over 100 in Surigao City alone, authorities said on Saturday.
Officials said many structures were damaged from the 6.7-magnitude tremor that struck late Friday. “As of this time, we have six fatalities and (at least) 125 injured,” said Sr. Supt. Anthony Maghari, the provincial police chief of Surigao del Norte.
Volcanologists said dozens of aftershocks had been recorded and that many more were likely to occur in the next days but would be less destructive.
No tsunami warnings were released by the authorities, but the extent of the damage was so huge that it cut off electricity in the city and left deep cracks on roads, including the airport’s runway. Airport operations were paralyzed.
The shallow epicenter of the earthquake was traced just 13 kilometers east of Surigao, explaining its powerful force.
Surigao Gov. Sol Matugas told radio station dzMM on Saturday one person was buried alive in his home.
Three others, including a four-year-old boy, were killed by falling debris, civil defence personnel said.
Regional civil defense chief Rosauro Arnel Gonzales said several houses had collapsed and search and rescue teams had been dispatched to make sure no one was inside.
“There are reports of houses that were damaged and they (the rescue teams) have to go around these impacted areas to really ascertain whether there is a need to conduct rescue,” he told AFP.
The quake damaged many buildings, including in the two-storey Gaisano mall – one of the city’s largest structures – and shattered windows, sending sharp shards and heavy rubble into the street.
“I thought it was the end of the world. The cement on the roads was cracking open,” resident Carlos Canseco told ABS-CBN News.
Terrified residents fled to higher ground after the quake, fearing that a tsunami would hit the coastal city of over 152,000 people.
Others spent the night in parking lots and open fields. Hospital staff temporarily brought bed-ridden patients outside until the aftershocks eased.
Provincial disaster monitoring chief Ramon Gotinga said residents were still on edge.
“They are all still traumatized. At the slightest shaking, they run out in the streets,” he said.
The Philippines is located in the so-called “Ring of Fire,” an area of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions encircling the basin of the Pacific Ocean.