Northern Philippines jolted by magnitude 6.1 earthquake

At least 16 killed and more than 80 injured after magnitude 6.1 earthquake hits 110km north of Manila.

    Northern Philippines jolted by magnitude 6.1 earthquake
    The Philippines is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where about 90 percent of the world's earthquakes strike. [Noel Celis/AFP]

    Rescue teams in the Philippines searched for signs of life beneath the tangled debris from a collapsed four-storey commercial building on Tuesday after a strong earthquake shook the country's biggest island, killing at least 16 people.

    Heavy equipment and search dogs were used as dozens of firefighters, military and civilian rescuers shifted through mangled metal and lumps of concrete in Porac, a town 110km north of Manila, where 12 people were killed by a 6.1 magnitude earthquake that struck on Monday.

    Two people were rescued and carried out on stretchers on Tuesday, adding to seven found alive and four found dead overnight after higher levels caved in on a ground-floor supermarket in Porac, killing five people. Seven were killed elsewhere in the town.

    Another, stronger earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5 struck in Samar island in the central Philippines on Tuesday afternoon, but there were no reports of injuries or major damage.

    The toll could rise as crews fan out across the region to assess damage in isolated hamlets that lost power and communications in one of the area's strongest tremors in years.

    Over 400 aftershocks have been registered since the initial quake, Philippine seismologists said.

    The earthquake also damaged several centuries-old churches that were crowded with worshippers in recent days as the Philippines celebrated Easter.

    Father Roland Moraleja, who is based in Porac, said the 18th-century belfry of Saint Catherine of Alexandria church collapsed in the quake.

    "It was the only part left from the old church," he told AFP news agency. "The historical value is now gone, but we are hopeful that it will rise again."

    Thousands of travellers were stranded after aviation authorities shut down the secondary Clark Airport, which is located on the site of the former US military installation about an hour's drive north of the capital.

    It was still closed on Tuesday as officials assessed the heavy damage to the terminal building and cracking on the air traffic control tower. 

    Dani Justo, a martial arts instructor, told AFP she was at her southern Manila home when the quake struck.

    "The clothes hanging on our line were really swaying. My Shih Tzu (dog) dropped flat on the ground," she added.

    Rescue workers search through rubble in Porac, Pampanga. The powerful earthquake set skyscrapers swaying and drove terrified residents onto the street [Noel Celis/AFP]


    The Philippines is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where about 90 percent of the world's earthquakes strike.

    The last major earthquake to hit the country was a magnitude 7.1 tremor that killed more than 220 people in the central Philippines in October 2013.

    In July 1990, more than 2,400 people were killed on the northern island of Luzon in a magnitude 7.8 earthquake, one of the strongest tremors ever to hit the country.

    SOURCE: News agencies