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.


Jailed UK-Iranian Zaghari-Ratcliffe is ‘chess piece’: husband

Updated 3 min 19 sec ago

Jailed UK-Iranian Zaghari-Ratcliffe is ‘chess piece’: husband

  • Ratcliffe said there was a 'gap' between him and the government over its tactics
  • Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016

LONDON: The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran, on Thursday said his wife was being used as a “chess piece,” following talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Speaking from Downing Street after his meeting, Richard Ratcliffe said there was a “gap” between him and the government over its tactics.
“I think there remains that gap between my sense that the government needs to be tougher with Iran, alongside improving relations generally, and the Foreign Office instinct to not have things escalate,” he told reporters.
“I don’t think I have come away thinking Nazanin is coming out tomorrow or even next week.”
Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran airport in April 2016 after visiting relatives in Iran with her young daughter.
She worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation — the media organization’s philanthropic arm — at the time.
Her family say Johnson jeopardized her case by mischaracterizing her job at the time.
Iranian authorities convicted her of sedition — a charge Zaghari-Ratcliffe has always contested — and she is serving a five-year jail term.
Her case has unfolded amid escalating tensions between Tehran and the West, particularly the United States and Britain.
But Ratcliffe believes it is particularly linked to London’s failure to return £400 million ($500 million, 450 million euros) owed to Tehran for a 1970s tank deal.
Ratcliffe said Thursday that his wife was “being held hostage” and used as a “chess piece.”
“That wasn’t disputed in there,” he said. “The UK obviously is wary of that tightrope it is walking between the US and Europe in Iran relations.
“I was saying ‘I think this is different’. This is a global norm, that actually we all uphold universal values where hostage-taking shouldn’t be happening.”
Ratcliffe had previously blamed Johnson for making his wife’s case worse by mistakenly stating, when he was foreign minister, that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been training journalists while visiting Iran.
The pair “didn’t talk about the past” on Thursday, he said.
Johnson “was very clear that he was committed in what he was doing... and that if there was anything they could do almost within reason, that they were ready to do it,” Ratcliffe added.
“I don’t doubt his personal commitment to Nazanin.”