MANILA (AFP) – Fifty-one people were injured and several homes, churches and other buildings damaged yesterday when an earthquake sent terrified residents of the southern Philippines fleeing their homes before dawn, police said.
The 5.8-magnitude shallow quake struck the northeast coast of Mindanao island at 4.42am, with the Philippine seismology office recording seven less intense aftershocks.
Officers at the police station in Madrid town, near the epicentre, ducked beneath tables as the glass door of a filing cabinet splintered and a television set fell to the floor and shattered, Police Chief Lieutenant Wilson Uanite said.
“We saw people running out of their homes. A number of residences sustained minor damage like cracked walls,” Uanite told AFP by telephone.
Patients were also evacuated briefly at the Madrid District Hospital, which sustained cracks on its concrete walls, he added.
The roof of an old car park in Madrid collapsed, causing slight damage to the town’s two fire trucks and three cars, Uanite said.
The impact was also felt in four neighbouring towns, damaging homes, two Catholic churches, a hotel, a gym, a bridge and a public market, while toppled power pylons blocked a key road, the civil defence office in the region said.
A restaurant tipped over into a nearby river in Cantilan town, while residents reported broken plates and glass and ceramic decorative figurines in their homes, police officer Johannes Tipon told AFP by telephone.
In Cantilan, masonry from a construction site fell through the roof of a neighbouring house, injuring a girl and her father as they slept, Tipon added.
The United States (US) Geological Service said yesterday’s quake occurred at a depth of 11.8 kilometres.
The Philippines is part of the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from quake-prone Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
The country’s most recent deadly quake occurred in April when at least 11 people were killed and a supermarket collapsed in a 6.3-magnitude tremor that hit a region north of the capital Manila.