October 18, 2019
MARAWI CITY: The strong and shallow quake that jolted several provinces in Mindanao left at least six people dead and injured 53 others, authorities said.
The 6.3-magnitude earthquake reduced dozens of houses to rubble and damaged hundreds of structures including schools, prompting local officials to cancel classes indefinitely.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council spokesman Mark Timbal on Thursday confirmed that three persons were buried alive when a landslide hit the town of Magsaysay.
In Tulunan, North Cotabato, a child died and two persons were hurt.
Meanwhile, in M’lang, Cotabato, Tony Panangulon died of a heart attack.
Later in the day, a wall fell and killed an unidentified man in the province of Maguindanao.
The strong earthquake tested the stability of structures in the areas affected.
Timbal said in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, buildings near the epicenter of the earthquake sustained heavy damage.
The Philippine seismology office has recorded more than 300 weaker aftershocks in the area since the big quake, but authorities said they did not expect the toll to rise significantly.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) deployed teams to inspect roads and and structures in quake-hit areas.
DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said these teams would assess the damage on roads, bridges, major establishments and government-owned buildings to ensure public safety.
Based on the initial report of the DPWH in Region 12, all national road networks in Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City) are passable.
Meanwhile, Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Hope Libiran said reports from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines showed that the Cotabato Airport only suffered a cracked window glass panel.
Air hubs in Davao, Tambler, Laguindingan and Butuan sustained no damage.
Philippine Ports Authority General Manager Jay Santiago said there was no reported damage to the Port of General Santos, but the agency temporarily shut it down until Thursday to pave way for a thorough inspection of all structures at the port.
President Rodrigo Duterte has directed all concerned government agencies to assist the victims of the quake.
“The President has directed agencies to assist in whatever way they can to alleviate the suffering of these people and to undertake any rehabilitation activities relative to whatever damages that the residents in Cotabato City went through,” Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
Panelo added that the national government, through the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, was closely monitoring the situation.
“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,” he said.
“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,” he added.
Panelo said Duterte might visit some of the quake victims.
No severe damage was reported to ports and regional airports.
Meanwhile, an estimated P2 billion worth of properties and commercial goods were destroyed in the huge fire that gutted the Gaisano Mall in General Santos City shortly after the 6.3-earthquake on Wednesday night.
Firefighters battled the blaze for more than 16 hours.
Fire Insp. Reginald Legaste, chief of the Bureau of Fire Protection station in the city, said about 75 percent of the 2.3-hectare mall was razed, based on their initial assessment.
Dacera said no one was hurt because mall-goers and employees were evacuated when the fire started.
WITH CATHERINE VALENTE AND LISBET K. ESMAEL
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