A powerful earthquake of 6.7 magnitude killed 15 people and injured more than 100 in Southern Philippines on Friday. The tremors struck the island of Mindanao late at night and damaged some structures.
People died after being hit by falling debris and blunt objects, said provincial disaster-response official Ramon Gotinga, according to stuff.co.nz. Rescue teams are currently carrying out relief operations in a village called Poknoy. "We're still doing a rapid needs and damage assessment," said Civil Defence director Antonio Gonzales, as reported.
According to US Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake occurred at a depth of 10 km and had its epicentre at about 13 km east of the city of Surigao. However, no tsunami alert was issued, reported the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Reuters reported that the head of the Philippines' seismic agency, Renato Solidum, announced on the radio that the earthquake was the strongest since the city was rocked by a 6.9 quake in 1879. He also said that authorities recorded 89 aftershocks and more are expected. However, these aftershocks are mild and are expected to cause no damage.
The earthquake triggered panic among people. They rushed to open spaces and even spent the night in parks and shelter areas, the news agency reported. Moreover, a bridge and a hotel collapsed and some homes were also damaged, said Surigao City Councilor Rise Recabo. Water supply was hard hit and several areas faced power cuts.
Surigao's airport was also shut down after officials noticed cracks on the runway.
The Philippines sits on the highly seismically active zone "Pacific Ring of Fire" where many continental plates on the earth's crust keep colliding. Hence, it experiences frequent earthquakes.