Aftershocks rock survivors in Mindanao's Surigao

Thousands in quake-hit Surigao in southern Philippines seek refuge on the streets as aftershocks hit the city.

    Cracks in the roads appeared along the National Highway after an earthquake hit Surigao city [Reuters]
    Cracks in the roads appeared along the National Highway after an earthquake hit Surigao city [Reuters]

    Thousands of residents of a quake-hit city in the southern Philippines sought refuge on the streets as aftershocks hit the region on Sunday, two days after a quake killed six.

    The 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck Surigao and nearby areas of Mindanao island late on Friday, injuring 202, with more than a thousand homes destroyed or damaged, according to officials.

    People who had fled their damaged homes wrapped themselves in blankets and sacks for a second night, as they slept side-by-side on the pavement Saturday, an AFP news agency photographer at the scene said.

    The state seismology office recorded 130 weaker quakes in Surigao, a city of 152,000 people, and in the predominantly agricultural region around it since the quake struck, though there were no additional reports of casualties or damage.

    "The people are terrified about the aftershocks," Romina Marasigan, spokeswoman for the government's National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council told reporters.

    "This was the first time Surigao had suffered a quake this strong. The previous one occurred in the 1800s," President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman Martin Andanar, a native of the region, said over government radio.

    Relief effort

    Duterte flew to the region on Sunday to inspect the response effort, which officials said has shifted to relief and rehabilitation after the last of the dead and injured were pulled from the rubble.

    He was accompanied by a military transport plane loaded with generator sets, solar lamps, high-energy biscuits, mosquito nets and blankets for the displaced residents, Marasigan said.

    Early on Sunday, long lines of people carrying pails and jugs queued for water rations supplied by fire trucks after the quake cut off tap water supply.

    "We're still being hit by aftershocks, and as of now, we do not have tap water supply. The people are suffering," provincial information officer Mary Escalante told ABS-CBN television in an interview.

    "Buildings that suffered structural damage have been closed," she said, adding some schools and gyms that were meant to serve as evacuation centres were among those damaged by the quake.

    The quake also damaged bridges and roads and knocked out the power supply, though electricity was restored in most of Surigao City on Saturday.

    An average of five earthquakes, most of them undetectable except through instruments, hit daily across the Philippines, which lies on the so-called Ring of Fire, a vast Pacific Ocean region where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.

    The last lethal quake that hit the country measured 7.1 magnitude. It left over 220 people dead and destroyed historic churches when it struck the central islands in October 2013.

    SOURCE: AFP news agency


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