Second quake strikes as Philippines hunts for survivors

PORAC, Philippines (AFP) – Philippine rescuers raced yesterday to reach some two dozen people still feared buried under a building near Manila that collapsed a day earlier in a deadly earthquake, as a powerful second tremor hit the nation.

The United States (US) Geological Survey put the second quake – on the central island of Samar – at 6.4 magnitude, stronger than the one that wrought significant damage on Monday near the capital in the north.

The latest quake sent terrified locals fleeing into the streets, with the authorities reporting 10 injuries – mostly from falling objects and one person who panicked and injured a leg by jumping off a building.

“No one started crying, but of course some panicked because it was really strong,” said Rey Estrobo, a supervisor at a hotel in Borongan town, near the epicentre.

At the same time, the toll in Monday’s quake rose to 16, with most of the fatalities in the worst-hit northern province of Pampanga, national disaster officials said.

Rescuers remove debris inside the collapsed supermarket building, destroyed at the town of Porac, Pampanga province. – AFP

More than 100 others were injured by falling rubble on Monday, including in Manila, according to police.

However, initial reports indicated relatively minor destruction in Samar given the strength of yesterday’s quake, which could be down to differences in ground composition.

“The damage is more pronounced if the houses and buildings are built on a foundation of soft soil,” seismologist Myla Advincula told AFP, referring to Pampanga’s soft sediment. “It enhances the shaking effect.”

“We’re thankful we avoided serious damage compared to Pampanga,” regional civil defence chief Henry Torres said, adding damage in Samar was limited to road and building cracks, a collapsed church wall, and a brief power outage.

Scores of rescuers in the northern town of Porac spent yesterday using cranes and jackhammers to peel back the pancaked concrete structure of a four-storey market building where the Red Cross said 24 people were unaccounted for.