Child killed as quake strikes southern Philippines

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Above, damaged structures after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake centered 61 kilometers southwest of Davao hit on Sunday, December 15, 2019. (PIA Davao Region Facebook)
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Rescuers look for trapped victims at collapsed market building in Padada, Davao del Sur of southern Philippines on Sunday, December 15, 2019. (Vincent Yaj Makiputin via Reuters)
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Above, damaged structures after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake centered 61 kilometers southwest of Davao hit on Sunday, December 15, 2019. (PIA Davao Region Facebook)
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Trapped flower vendors are pulled out from a collapsed wall following a strong earthquake that struck Padada, Davao del Sur province, southern Philippines on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (John Angelo Jomao-as/AP)
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Above, damaged structures after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake centered 61 kilometers southwest of Davao hit on Sunday, December 15, 2019. (PIA Davao Region Facebook)
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Above, damaged structures after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake centered 61 kilometers southwest of Davao hit on Sunday, December 15, 2019. (PIA Davao Region Facebook)
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Residents look at a destroyed building after a 6.8magnitude earthquake in the town of Padada in Davao del Sur province on the southern island of Mindanao. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/AFP)
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Updated 15 December 2019

Child killed as quake strikes southern Philippines

  • A rescue operation had been launched at a heavily damaged market building in Padada
  • Patients were evacuated from hospitals as a precaution and nervous crowds massed outside shopping malls

MANILA: A powerful earthquake hit the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on Sunday, killing a child, injuring dozens and damaging buildings in an area still recovering from a string of deadly quakes in October.
Police said a rescue operation had been launched at a heavily damaged market building in Padada near the 6.8 magnitude quake’s epicenter, which is about 90 kilometers (55 miles) south of the major city of Davao.
Patients were evacuated from hospitals as a precaution and nervous crowds massed outside shopping malls after the jolt and dozens of smaller, but strong aftershocks.
“We can no longer use our office because the walls cracked and the stairs collapsed,” local police spokeswoman Lea Orbuda told AFP. “The power is off and the water taps are dry.”
A provincial police commander said the number of injured across the hardest hit areas had reached 62, with one confirmed fatality after a child was crushed under a collapsed structure.
The commander, Alberto Lupaz, said there appeared to be some people trapped under the damaged market building but rescue efforts had been delayed.
“They (rescuers) were attempting to check the rubble... the aftershocks were too strong,” Lupaz said.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who is from Davao, was caught up in the earthquake but was unharmed, officials said.
“The First Lady... said the car she was riding (in) was swaying,” spokesman Salvador Panelo said. “They are unhurt.”
There was no threat of a tsunami, said the US Geological Survey, which initially reported the magnitude at 6.9.
The Philippines is situated on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
Three quakes above 6.0 magnitude hit roughly the same area of Mindanao in a matter of weeks in October, killing some two dozen people and heavily damaging office buildings, schools and apartments.
Tens of thousands of people were forced into shelters by the string of tremors, the government said, either because their homes were damaged or they were too afraid to return.
Most of the deaths in October were due to collapsing walls and falling debris, including a teenage boy who was crushed by a falling wall as he tried to escape his school.
Other fatalities were attributed to rock and landslides unleashed by the violent shaking that injured at least 400 people.
The Philippines has been hit by several very powerful earthquakes in recent decades, including one of magnitude 7.8 that struck the northern resort town of Baguio in 1990.
That tremor toppled multi-story buildings and hotels, killing some 1,200 people.


UK science advisers warn public on COVID-19 rates

Updated 4 min 16 sec ago

UK science advisers warn public on COVID-19 rates

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson huddled with ministers over the weekend to discuss how the government will respond to the recent rise in cases
  • The UK reported a seven-day average of 21 deaths a day last week

LONDON: Britain’s top medical adviser says the country has, in a “very bad sense,” turned a corner on COVID-19 infection rates, with figures suggesting there will be an exponential growth in the disease unless action is taken.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty told the public on Monday that rates are going in the “wrong direction” amid expectations the government is preparing to announce new measures to control the pandemic.
“We have in a very bad sense, literally turned a corner,” after weeks of increasing infection rates.
Whitty said that if nothing is done, new infections will rise to 49,000 a day by mid-October. Hospitalizations are also doubling in seven to eight days — leading to more deaths.
There was also no indication that the virus had lessened in severity, he said. “We see no evidence that this is true.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson huddled with ministers over the weekend to discuss how the government will respond to the recent rise in cases, which has pushed infection rates to levels last seen in May. Later this week the government is expected to announce a slate of short-term restrictions that will act as a “circuit breaker” to slow the spread of the disease.
The government is hoping to keep that number from climbing back to the peak levels of early April, when more than 5,000 cases a day were being reported.
While death rates have remained relatively low so far, public health officials warn that deaths are likely to rise in coming weeks.
The UK reported a seven-day average of 21 deaths a day last week, compared with a peak of 942 on April 10.
The government last week imposed tighter restrictions on communities in northeastern England, where the infection rate first began to rise. Bars and restaurants in those areas must now close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and people are prohibited from socializing with individuals from other households.
The rise in infection rates comes as lawmakers across the political spectrum criticize the government’s testing program. While government ministers tout the record numbers of tests being performed, there are widespread reports of people having to travel hundreds of miles for tests and tests being voided because it is taking labs too long to process them.
An effective testing program is seen as essential to controlling the pandemic because it allows the government to track infections and inform people when they should self-isolate.