By Neil Jerome Morales and Peter Blaza
MANILA (Reuters) – A magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck the southern Philippines on Wednesday, killing at least one child and injuring more than two dozen other people.
Government authorities were starting to receive reports from field officials on the island of Mindanao where the earthquake struck, opening cracks in buildings and homes, sending residents running from shops and offices and knocking power out.
“Our hospital chief reported that a child died because of the earthquake,” Reuel Limbungan, mayor of Tulunan town in North Cotabato province, told the DZMM radio station. Two more people were injured, he added.
The earthquake also shook Davao City, the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte and among the most populous cities in the country.
In Magsaysay town, in the nearby province of Davao del Sur, 20 people were injured by falling debris and home furniture, Anthony Allada, the municipality’s information officer, told DZMM.
“Many houses were totally damaged… Another person is in a critical condition,” Allada said.
The municipality of M’lang, in Cotabato province, reported three injuries, Vice Mayor Joselito Pinol told DZMM radio.
The United States Geological Survey said the quake struck 69 km (43 miles) north-northwest of the city of General Santos, Mindanao at 7:39 p.m. (1137 GMT). The epicentre was about 80 km southwest of central Davao.
“We felt a very strong jolt and there was a blackout. I saw people rushing down. We were panicking, heading to the exit,” said Naru Guarda Cabaddu, a hotel consultant visiting Kidapawan City, between the epicentre of the quake and Davao.
The Philippines is on the geologically active Pacific Ring of Fire and experiences frequent earthquakes.
“I was driving back home when I felt a very powerful shake. I stopped and saw people and patients running out of the hospital,” Raprap Rafael, a resident of Kidapawan City, told Reuters. “I’m not sleeping at my home tonight.”
Renato Solidum, head of the Philippines seismic agency, told the ANC news channel there was a chance of aftershocks, which could be strong and capable of causing severe damage.
“Aftershocks can happen. Some can be felt most likely in low intensities. But we cannot remove the possibility of similar intensities that can be felt in the epicentral area,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Peter Blaza; Editing by Matthew Tostevin, Alison Williams and Alex Richardson)