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Massive earthquake kills six and destroys hundreds of homes on Mindanao



A powerful earthquake in Mindanao has killed at least six people and injured dozens more.

The quake, which measured 6.7 on the Richter scale, affected 11 towns — destroying buildings, roads, bridges and a runway in Surigao del Norte province, and forcing hundreds of people to flee their homes.

The epicentre of the quake has been pinpointed to eight miles north-west of the provincial capital Surigao at a depth of six miles, said Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Seismology and Volcanology (Philvolc).

About 100 aftershocks have also been detected. Evacuation centres took in many people overnight, but most returned home today (Saturday, February 11).

Provincial information officer Mary Jul Escalante was being interviewed by ABS-CBN TV network when another aftershock struck while she was live on air. “Oh sir, there’s an aftershock,” she said. “I’m shaking, we have a phobia now”.

At least six people have been reported dead, mostly after being struck by falling debris. More than 130 have been injured.

In Surigao, the quake forced the closure of the domestic airport due to deep cracks in its runway. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said it might remain closed until March 10. Several buildings, including a state college, a hotel and a shopping mall, were damaged.

The city has been placed under a “state of calamity” to allow faster release of emergency funds, provincial police chief Anthony Maghari said.

TV footage showed army troops and other rescuers pulling out the body of a man from the concrete rubble of a damaged house while relatives wept.

There is still no power and electricity supply in some quake-affected areas.

The last major earthquake that struck Surigao, a region that is also dealing with a renewed communist insurgency, was in the 1879. In 1990, a magnitude 7.7 quake killed nearly 2,000 people on the northern island of Luzon.

Amid the calamity, the military has appealed to the New People’s Army fighters not to disrupt rescue and rehabilitation work. “We urge you not to attack our soldiers,”  said army spokesman Colonel Edgard Arevalo.

 

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