At least 5 dead, dozens injured in Mindanao earthquake

DAVAO CITY (3rd UPDATE) – At least 5 people were killed and dozens injured following a magnitude 6.3 earthquake that hit Mindanao Wednesday night, October 16.

The deaths include a child in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao; and 3 others – including a mother and her infant – in Magsaysay town, Davao del Sur, according to local officials.

Meanwhile, a fifth died after suffering a fatal heart attack, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said.

Magsaysay information officer Anthony Allada identified the fatalities in his town as 22-year-old Angel Lakay and her 10-month old baby, and two-year-old Kristine Ruda – all killed by falling objects and debris during the quake. 

Magsaysay town is Davao del Sur's border town with Tulunan, North Cotabato, the earthquake's epicenter.

At least 30 people were reported  injured, according to local disaster management officials.  

People living in coastal villages panicked as the earthquake and aftershocks rocked their villages, causing them to flee for fear of a tsunami even if Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) did not  issue a tsunami alert.

In Davao Occidental, provincial disaster risk reduction and management officer Harry Camoro said the coastal towns of Malita and Don Marcelino became ghost towns minutes after the quake.

“We have oriented people living in the coastal areas to evacuate in the event of a strong quake. However, the situation was quite chaotic because people were in panic as they evacuated to higher grounds,” Camoro said, adding that there had been no injuries though.

Residents who fled their villages over misleading information on a tsunami had already gone home.

In Davao del Sur, provincial disaster management officer Christopher Tan, said that people who fled their villages returned on Thursday morning, October 17, after spending the night far from the coastline.

“They have returned home as of 7 am today,” Tan said.

Damaged property

In Davao City, the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said 7 persons were injured and a house caught fire in Farland, Dacoville Subdivision in Barangay Dumoy. (IN PHOTOS: Mindanao earthquake's trail of damage)

The City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said at least 3 establishments also suffered “significant damages”:  SM Ecoland, SM Lanang, and Abreeza, which sustained wall cracks.

Davao City information officer Jefry Tupas said building inspections in schools were ongoing in the city.

Building inspections were also being conducted in Davao del Sur, where at least two establishments suffered major damage – Cor Jesu College and Gaisano Mall, both in in Digos City.

In Davao Occidental, one house under construction collapsed in Sitio Relocation in Barangay Poblacion in Malita. Inspections were also being conducted in some school buildings, including the 4-story building at the Mariano Peralta National High School in Malita.

The earthquake, which was tectonic in origin, struck Tulunan, Cotabato, at around 7:37 pm at a depth of 8 kilometers. The United States Geological Survey, meanwhile, recorded the earthquake at magnitude 6.4. 

Philvolcs recorded more than 300 weaker aftershocks in the area since the big earthquake, but authorities said they do not expect the toll to rise significantly. 

Meanwhile, two earthquakes struck Davao region on Thursday morning – magnitude 5.3 in Manay, Davao Oriental, at 4:53 am; and magnitude 5.2 in Jose Abad Santos, Davao Occidental, at 9:28 am. 

Malacañang said  in a statement that the Office of the President "has already tasked all concerned agencies of the government to mobilize, respond and provide immediate assistance to those in need, as well as to study plans on how to rehabilitate the damaged areas."

"We ask the public to remain calm but vigilant and we urge them to refrain from spreading disinformation that may cause undue alarm, panic and stress to many people," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo. – with reports from the Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com