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Panic, damage after Leyte quake


Residents fled their houses in panic overnight Friday as aftershocks hit Eastern Visayas a day after a magnitude-6.5 earthquake killed two people and injured at least 72 others, authorities said.

Rescuers pulled out 13 trapped people from a collapsed commercial building late Thursday in Kananga, Leyte, near the epicenter of the quake, local officials said.

Three provinces in the region remain without power while all schools are closed in Leyte as authorities assess the damage.

“Some residents ran out of their homes when they felt aftershocks. Some had panicked but many stayed calm because we just had an earthquake drill and they know what to do in times of disaster,” Office of Civil Defense regional spokesperson Pebbles Lluz said.

The two fatalities were an 19-year-old woman who was hit by falling debris in Ormoc City in Leyte while one body was retrieved from the collapsed building in Kananga.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council spokesperson Romina Marasigan identified the fatalities as Gerry Movilla, 40, of Kananga, and Rhisa Rosales, 19, of Purok 2, Barangay Cabaon-an, Ormoc.

Marasigan said 43 of the injured are from Kananga, 26 from Carigara, Leyte, and three from Ormoc.

Six persons rescued from the collapsed building in Kananga were identified. They were Marian Suparales, 42, of Barangay Hiluctugan, Kananga; Jevy Omulon, 38; Aina Nicole Geraldez, 7; and Sancho Geraldez, 4, all from Barangay Rizal, Kananga; Edgar Cabahug of Jaro, Leyte, and Irene Flores, of Real St., Poblacion, Kananga.

The earthquake also damaged houses and schools, left cracks in highways, and caused landslides, authorities said.

Geothermal plants in Leyte, its main source of power, were also hit, according to the provincial government.

Local airlines have cancelled flights to Ormoc.

“The center of the earthquake was in mountainous villages so we will only get a clearer picture of the impact once we reach these areas,” Marasigan said.

The quake hit at a depth of around six kilometers, the US Geological Survey said.

In February, a magnitude-6.5 quake killed eight people and left more than 250 injured outside Surigao City. The following month, magnitude-5.9 tremor killed one person there in March.

Before the Surigao quakes, the last fatal earthquake to hit the Southeast Asian nation was a magnitude-7.1 tremor that left more than 220 people dead and destroyed historic churches in Central Visayas in October 2013.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has recorded 241 aftershocks from the Leyte earthquake as of 5 a.m. yesterday.

The Philippines lies on the so-called Ring of Fire, a vast Pacific Ocean region where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.