Mindanao quake toll hits 4 as rescuers hunt for survivors

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 16 2019 08:02 AM | Updated as of Dec 16 2019 11:24 PM

Hundreds of aftershocks strike

MANILA (5th UPDATE) — The death toll from the powerful quake that hit Mindanao this weekend climbed to 4 on Monday as rescuers used heavy equipment and their bare hands to hunt for survivors in a collapsed building.

Sunday's tremor cracked schools, toppled homes and injured dozens but largely spared big cities on the island of Mindanao, which is still recovering from a string of deadly quakes in October.

Searchers pulled the bodies of 2 women aged 57 and 73 from a collapsed market building in Padada, Davao Del Sur while another fatality was still trapped under the debris, fire officials said in a joint press conference with Mayor Pedro Caminero Jr.

The body of the trapped female victim was pulled out from the ruins around 9:57 p.m. Monday. She was identified by her family as Emily Gallogos.

Before she died, Gallogos was able to send a text message to one of her co-workers.

Six others were missing and could be under the ruins, according to fire official Senior Supt. Fred Trajeras.

"Our priority is (finding) signs of life, which we hope we can still rescue," he said.

A 6-year-old child was also killed in neighboring Matanao town when her family's home collapsed, officials earlier said.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has only received reports of 2 fatalities from Hagonoy and Matanao, and was still waiting for information from other areas, its spokesperson Mark Timbal told ABS-CBN News past noon.

The agency is also verifying reports that the quake injured 31 people, he said in a text message.

Four other quakes with magnitudes above 6 had hit the region since October, state seismology office Phivolcs earlier said.

The latest quake could have been caused by the Tambulan Fault, which has a "low" chance of generating another tremor with a maximum magnitude of 7.2, said Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum.

"Nand'yan parati iyong posibilidad na mga magnitude 7 earthquake... Hindi natin iniaalis iyong possibility na kaparehong lakas o slightly bigger [earthquake] although iyong ganyang chances ay mababa," he told radio DZMM.

Searchers were still fanning out across the quake-hit areas of Mindanao on to fully assess the damage, but have already reported several schools and hospitals were cracked.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who is from Davao, was caught up in the earthquake but was unharmed, officials said.

"The First Lady... said the car she was riding (in) was swaying," Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said, referring to Honeylet Avancena, Duterte's partner. "They are unhurt."

With reports from Hernel Tocmo, Chrislen Bulosan and Claire Cornelio, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse