Rescue workers inspect a damaged building in Digos, Davao del Sur, southern Philippines

The third strong earthquake to hit the Philippines this month killed five people on Thursday (October 30), injured several others and destroyed buildings already damaged by earlier tremors in a devastated region in the southern Philippines.

Officials say “several cities and towns in the quake-hit area suspended school classes and office work due to fear of more tremors”.

“Many residents may have returned to already-damaged houses despite the risks because of the humid tropical heat, causing some injuries due to falling debris, officials said.”

One report said one of the victims, a man, was “pinned to death by a fallen tree and a woman died after being hit by heavy debris”.

“Two other villagers died due to quake-related injuries in Cotabato’s Arakan town but details of their deaths were not immediately available.”

A small hotel partially collapsed in one city, “crushing the lobby and a bank on the ground floor and causing the building to lean on an adjacent hospital”.

The city’s Mayor said: “Both the hotel and the hospital were ordered abandoned because of the previous quake damage but six employees and an engineer were inside Eva’s Hotel when the ground shook at midmorning.

“They’re supposed to inspect the building with an engineer then it happened. They managed to run out,” he added.

“The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said the 6.5-magnitude quake was set off by movement in a local fault at a depth of 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) about 28 kilometers (17 miles) east of Tulunan town in Cotabato province.

“The region already was devastated by two powerful earthquakes and hundreds of aftershocks this month,” the report added.

According to the Office of Civil Defense: “At least eight people died in Tuesday’s 6.6 magnitude quake, two were missing, 395 were injured and more than 2,700 houses and buildings, including schools and hospitals, were damaged.”

Roads were damaged in the quake, “making conditions treacherous for first responders”.

Another earthquake on October 16 “with a magnitude 6.3 killed at least seven people, injured more than 200 and destroyed or damaged more than 7,000 buildings”.

“The Philippine archipelago lies on the so-called Pacific ‘Ring of Fire,’ the arc of faults around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes occur.”

As residents gathered in open spaces, they were urged to remain outside the buildings because strong aftershocks were expected,” the report said.
“A seven-year-old child and his 44-year old father were among those who were killed in the North Cotabato province after they were struck by a boulder, disaster officials said.

Elsewhere, a 66-year-old man was killed by falling debris at a church in Koronadal City, and a 15-year-old high school student died when he was hit by debris in Magsaysay, according to local news reports.”