A powerful 6.9-magnitude earthquake has shaken Davao del Sur and other neighboring provinces on Sunday afternoon, leaving a child dead and 18 people injured.
This is by far the strongest quake among the previous quakes that hit Mindanao areas last month.
Its epicenter was at west of Matanao, which had not been affected from October’s quakes, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) said.
According to reports as of Sunday evening, the tremor ruined two buildings in Padada town, Davao del Sur, while causing the death of a six-year-old girl in another town.
The earthquake, which hit at exactly 2.32 p.m, was of tectonic origin. It had shallow depth of focus at only 3 km, that’s why the quake was felt more at the surface.
Davao del Sur and nearby provinces felt the intensity of the quake, the strongest being recorded was in the towns of Matanao and Magsaysay with Intensity 7.
Casualties and damage
A few hours after the quake, the public information office of Davao del Sur confirmed the death of 6-year-old girl Chebelchen Imgador of Asinan village in Matanao.
Vincent Fernandez, municipal mayor, said a wall collapsed in their home and it hit her.
Meanwhile in Padada, two buildings and a water reservoir, which was used to cover the public market, also collapsed.
Rescuers escorted four people out of the three-story shopping center Southern Trade, one of the collapsed buildings, but were looking for shoppers and employees trapped inside.
As of Sunday afternoon, 87 aftershocks were already recorded, 5.2 and 4.0 being the strongest, near the epicenter.
In the meantime, no tsunami warning was issued yet as the quake was inland, PHIVOLCS director Renato Solidum said.
The US Geological Survey and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, however, confirmed that there were no threats of a tsunami.
On the other hand, public officer of Magsaysay, Davao del Sur, Anthony Allada, said 14 people were injured from the quake although was severely hurt.
He also added that roads and buildings, including their municipal building, were damaged and were out of electricity.
DZMM also reported that power was out in General Santos City and patients at a hospital had to evacuate.
However, according to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), power transmission services remained stable.
“The Mindanao grid remains intact as there are no reports of damage to transmission facilities in Davao del Sur and nearby areas,” said NGCP, adding that the blackout in Magsaysay and other places could have been caused by problems at the level of the electric cooperatives.
Duterte is OK after the quake
On a different note, President Rodrigo Duterte was in his hometown Davao City when the quake was felt, and he was safe.
“The President is OK. He went back to sleep after the quake,” commander of the Presidential Security Group Brig. Gen. Jose Eriel Niembra said in a text message to reporters.
Meanwhile, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte was at home with Kitty, his youngest child, when the quake hit.
Panelo also mentioned that the President’s partner, Honeylet Avancena, was returning “when the ground rumbled and moved.”
“She said the car she was riding was swaying. They are unhurt,” he added.
The recent quake followed after a month when a series of quakes hit Mindanao in October.
The latest earthquake to struck the region prior to Sunday’s tremor was the magnitude 5.9 quake of Nov. 19 in Bukidnon.
The series of quakes took some two dozen lives and damaged millions of properties and structures.