Rescuers look for survivors in collapsed shopping center
DAVAO CITY, Philhippines — Rescue teams searched for signs of life in a collapsed shopping center in Padada town, Davao del Sur province, on Monday, a day after a powerful earthquake rocked Mindanao, killing at least six people and injuring dozens more.
Disaster response officials said five people were believed to be trapped in the rubble of the three-story Southern Trade Shopping Center in Padada, a town located about 20 kilometers from Matanao, a municipality 5 km from the epicenter of Sunday’s 6.9-magnitude earthquake.
Rescuers were using chainsaws and thermal imaging equipment to look for survivors, but said there was little hope of finding anyone alive.
“It’s very distressing. There’s a very slim chance of finding survivors,” provincial disaster official Christopher Tan said in a television interview.
Hearbeat detectedOnly the third floor of the shopping center remained as the first and second floors fell during the quake, leaving the structure leaning precariously toward the road.
Army 1st Lt. Christopher Peña, assistant leader of the disaster response team from the 512nd Engineering Battalion, said rescuers were straining to look for signs of life beneath the rubble after a heartbeat had been detected by an instrument on Sunday night.
But nobody had responded to rescuers’ calls and drumming, he said.
The death toll from the quake climbed to five on Monday after two bodies were recovered from the collapsed shopping center.
Later, local authorities reported that a 63-year-old farmer in Magsaysay town in Davao del Sur died of a heart attack as he was running during the quake.
Another death was reported in Hagonoy town and still another at New Clarin village in Bansalan, Davao del Sur.
A 6-year-old girl was killed when the wall of her house collapsed on her during the temblor on Sunday afternoon, the fifth quake to hit the region since October.
A further 33 people were injured, said Francis Irag, regional information officer.
More aftershocks coming
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned residents of Davao del Sur and surrounding provinces on Monday to brace for more aftershocks, after recording hundreds of tremors following Sunday’s main event.
As of 3 p.m. on Sunday, Phivolcs had recorded 546 aftershocks, mostly near the epicenter west of Matanao. Of those tremors, 53 were felt and 191 were plotted, said Renato Solidum, the Phivolcs director.
Solidum said geologists were studying whether Sunday’s powerful quake was related to the destructive temblors that hit the region in October.
Movement in the Mlang Fault generated a 6.3-magnitude earthquake on Oct. 16, then a 6.6-magnitude quake on Oct. 29. Two days later, the Makilala Fault moved, generating a 6.5-magnitude temblor. The quakes killed 23 people and injured 563 others in the region.
“The fault that moved [on Sunday was] the Tangbulan Fault, and not the faults that are part of the Cotabato fault system,” Solidum said.
The aftershocks kept people on edge on Monday.
‘Misa de gallo’
Every year, at the start of the Misa de gallo novena on Dec. 16, the Immaculate Concepcion Parish Church in Bansalan town, Davao del Sur, is full of worshipers. But there were empty pews on Monday as the Christmas novena started at dawn.
In his homily, Rex Tapales, the parish priest, urged the faithful to keep their faith in God strong amid the calamity.
In Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle appealed for solidarity with the people of Mindanao in his homily during the first Mass of the novena.
“Let us be united with them. At this moment they are also probably having their simbang gabi (Misa de gallo), not in a beautiful church like the Manila Cathedral, yet they continue to profess their faith,” Tagle said.
Faith is the essence of Misa de gallo, he said.
“We have faith and we believe that somebody will come—Jesus our Savior. Emmanuel, God is with us,” he added, quoting a from Matthew 1:23.
Tagle, recently appointed by Pope Francis as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in the Vatican, said he had received information that a priest was injured in Sunday’s quake.
Round-the-clock aidMalacañang on Monday ordered front-line agencies to bring help round-the-clock to the victims of Sunday’s earthquake.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles gave assurance that the government would provide assistance to the families of those who died in the quake.
President Duterte, who was in Davao City, his hometown, when the earthquake struck, was closely monitoring the situation in the region, Nograles said.
But presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Mr. Duterte had yet to say whether he would tour the areas hit by Sunday’s quake.—Reports from Jeoffrey Maitem, Eldie Aguirre, Orlando Dinoy, Germelina Lacorte, Williamor Magbanua, Jhesset O. Enano, Julie M. Aurelio, Tina G. Santos and the wires
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