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Aftershocks stop rescue work at collapsed Davao del Sur building

/ 12:09 AM December 16, 2019

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Continuing aftershocks made rescue-and-retrieval operations dangerous at a collapsed commercial building in Padada town in Davao del Sur  prompting the disaster response team to call off the operations for a while as they awaited some lifesaving equipment from Metro Manila.

As of 10 p.m. on Sunday, at least 77 aftershocks have been recorded by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), following the magnitude 6.9 earthquake that struck 6 km northwest of Padada town at 2:12 p.m. on Sunday, causing at two commercial buildings in the town to cave in.

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READ: Child dead, 18 hurt in magnitude 6.9 quake in Davao del Sur

The strongest among the aftershocks was the magnitude 5.2 quake that struck at 3:30 pm, sending people scampering out of their houses and buildings into the open air again.

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The epicenter of this aftershock was traced at 19 km southeast of Matanao, Davao del Sur, with a depth of focus
of 1 kilometer.

Only the third floor of the three-story Southern Trade building remained, as its first and second floor had collapsed, causing the building to teeter towards the highway, according to 1st Lt. Christopher Peña, assistant team leader of the disaster response and retrieval team from the 512 Engineering Battalion.

Peña told the Inquirer that six of the eight employees in the building had been rescued and taken to the hospital.

Aside from Southern Trade, which housed a grocery store on its first floor, the two-story Canlas Commercial merchandising store also collapsed, but no casualty was reported, according to engineer Luke Cadoyas, Padada town disaster risk reduction and management officer.

Peña said rescuers were about to enter the collapsed building past 8 p.m. on Sunday when another strong aftershock prevented them from doing so.

At 8:38 pm, Phivolcs reported a 4.5 magnitude aftershock 28 km southwest of Padada town.

Peña said the rescue team decided to wait for a life detector that was expected at the site at 1 a.m., Monday, Dec. 16, to find out if there was remaining life inside the collapsed building.

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It was not certain yet how many shoppers were trapped inside the building as the account from among those who were rescued varied, according to Peña.

Davao del Sur Gov. Douglas Cagas earlier said he had sent a rescue team to Padada town, following an urgent appeal issued by the town’s disaster risk reduction management officer, who said they were short of the right skill and equipment to deal with the calamity of this scale.

/atm

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