Magnitude 6.5 earthquake rocks parts of Mindanao

MANILA, Philippines (7th UPDATE) – A magnitude 6.5 earthquake rocked Central and Eastern Mindanao on Thursday, October 31, just two days after a strong tremor killed several people and hurt hundreds of others in the region.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said in a bulletin that the tremor, which was tectonic in origin at a depth of 2 kilometers, struck Tulunan, Cotabato, at 9:15 am on Thursday. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Earthquakes and hazards in the Philippines)

The earthquake happened just two days after a magnitude 6.6 tremor struck the same area.

It was felt in the following areas:

Instrumental Intensities: 

While the earthquake struck just two days after a stronger magnitude 6.6 tremor rocked the same area, Phivolcs Science Research Specialist Erlinton Olavere said in an interview on CNN that it could not be considered an aftershock because they have nearly the same magnitude.

Phivolcs said damage to infrastructure and property were expected in areas affected by the quake, which were still reeling from the effects of two strong earthquakes this month – a magnitude 6.3 tremor on October 16, and another on October 29.

The October 29 earthquake killed at least 8 people, based on the latest official report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (NDRRMC). 

President Rodrigo Duterte was in his hometown of Davao City when the shaking began, but his spokesman said he was unharmed. 

Frightened residents ran to safety as the strong shaking hit just as businesses and classes opened for the day.

"Everyone rushed outside," said Reuel Limbungan, mayor of the Tulunan town, which was once again near the epicenter. "It was as strong as the previous one."

The latest tremor caused the covered court of the Father Tulio Favali Municipal Hospital to collapse.

Hospital chief Dr Lilian Roldan they have 14 patients taking shelter in the open ground hallways.

Gonzalo Cadiena, a hospital administrative officer,  said that the annex building with a 10-bed capacity had been abandoned after the second earthquake on October 29. 

Meanwhile, the flow of traffic between Davao City and Cotabato City had been halted after the DPWH shut down the Bulatukan Bridge in Makilala, Cotabato due to cracks.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines' Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) has raised its alert status for disaster response, said Eastmincom Commander Lieutenant General Felimon T. Santos Jr. 

While the military focuses on disaster response in the region, Santos said the military will also remain "vigilant to ensure that terrorists will not take advantage of the situation." – With reports from Bobby Lagsa, Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

READ related stories: