5.9 quake hits Surigao; 23 hurt in stampede


12:06 AM March 17th, 2012

March 17th, 2012 12:06 AM

MANILA, Philippines—A 5.9-magnitute earthquake struck the southern Philippines on Friday, causing minor damage and a mall stampede that left at least 23 people injured, officials said.

Most of the injured were sent home after being treated for minor cuts. Two people who were crushed remained in hospital for observation, said George Tremedal, a hospital doctor.

The quake was centered 2 kilometers off Dinagat Island near Surigao del Norte province, said Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) chief Renato Solidum. No tsunami alert was raised.

“It was very strong. You could really feel it. You could see the vehicles moving. I could not control my body as it was moving,” said Albert Lancin, a city health official.

Surigao del Norte Gov. Sol Matugas said 20 people were hurt in a stampede at a mall packed with shoppers in the provincial capital.

Shoppers in panic

Glass doors shattered and panicked shoppers surged out of the mall, which had only opened on Friday.

A teacher and two students suffered minor injuries when they were hit by a cable that broke in a public gymnasium, Matugas said.

The Office of Civil Defense said minor cracks were observed in the mall and gymnasium.

Matugas said town mayors had been asked to alert village disaster brigades for possible aftershocks.

The Philippines is located in the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where earthquakes and volcanic activity are common.

The quake struck at 3:58 p.m.

Disederio Cabanlit of Phivolcs Davao said it was tectonic in origin and had a depth of 16 km. The quake was at its strongest in Surigao City, where it registered an intensity of 6.

The quake was also felt at intensity 3 in Catbalogan, Samar, and at Maasin and Hinunangan in Southern Leyte, and intensity 2 in Cebu City. AP and Dennis Santos, Inquirer Mindanao

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