KIDAPAWAN CITY [Updated, 4:34 p.m.]–Five fatalities have so far been recorded while scores of others are being treated for injuries following the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that several parts of Mindanao Wednesday evening.
Three of the fatalities are from the Davao del Sur town of Magsaysay, consisting of a five-year old girl, a mother and her nine-month old son, according to Magsaysay information officer Anthony Allada.
In the North Cotabato of M’lang, Mayor Russell Abonado said Tony Panangulon, 60, farmer and resident of Barangay Gaunan died of heart attack minutes after the quake struck at 7:37 p.m.
The fifth fatality is a six-year-old girl in Datu Paglas town, Maguindanao, who died when the concrete wall inside her home fell on him when the temblor struck, said Tim Ambolodto of the Maguindanao Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC).
Datu Paglas town is adjacent to Tulunan town in North Cotabato, the epicenter of the tectonic quake that also shook the Davao region and parts of Northern Mindanao.
Ambolodto said emergency responders rushed the child to a hospital in Tulunan but he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Maguindanao Governor Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu directed the provincial disaster management office Thursday to extend financial aid to the victim’s family.
Mangudadatu also suspended classes in all levels, both private and public schools, in the province so that school authorities can conduct a damage assessment.
In General Santos City, nearly half of the sprawling Gaisano Mall here was gutted down by a fire that broke out following an aftershock minutes after the earthquake and was only put out at 1 p.m. Thursday.
Dr. Agripino Dacera Jr., head of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), said firefighters spent more than 12 hours since it reportedly erupted following a strong aftershock around 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Dacera said there were no reported casualties as of Thursday morning as mall-goers and employees were already evacuated due to the earthquake when the fire started.
Citing accounts from mall personnel, he said the fire reportedly originated at the kitchenware, furniture and plastic ware sections at the ground level.
It eventually reached the second level and rapidly spread to the other sections, prompting the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)-Region 12 director, Chief Supt. Louie Puracan, to declare a general alarm before midnight Wednesday.
In Davao City, the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office said seven persons were injured during the magnitude 6.3 quake that hit several Mindanao areas.
One house also caught fire at Farland, Dacoville Subdivision in Barangay Dumoy.
The CDRRMO said at least three establishments also suffered “significant damages”. These are SM Ecoland, SM Lanang, and Abreeza, which manifested wall cracks.
Residents who fled their villages over misleading information on a tsunami already went home.
Jefry Tupas, the City Information Officer, said building inspections in schools were ongoing.
Davao del Sur
In Davao del Sur, the Disaster Management Office said in a statement that officials are still conducting building inspections but said that among those that suffered major damages were the main building of Cor Jesu College in Digos City and Gaisano Mall, also in the said city.
The number of injuries had not been consolidated yet but more than 20 have already been reported in Magsaysay town and Digos City.
Christopher Tan, the DMO provincial chief, said people also panicked during the quake and evacuated to areas far from the coastlines.
“They have returned home as of 7 a.m. today (Thursday),” he added.
Davao del Sur Governor Douglas Cagas has already ordered the suspension of work and classes in all levels, both public and private, due to the earthquake, said provincial information officer Hiru Gustavo Undalok.
Undalok said Gov. Cagas has already instructed the provincial engineers for the inspection of structures and has called on all establishments to report damages to the province’s incident command center.
In Davao Occidental, Harry Camoro said the coastal towns of Malita and Don Marcelino have practically become ghost towns minutes after the quake.
“We have oriented people living in the coastal areas to evacuate in the event of a strong quake. However, the situation was quite chaotic because people were in panic as they evacuated to higher grounds,” Camoro said, adding that there had been no injuries though.
He said one house, which was still being constructed collapsed in Sitio Relocation in Barangay Poblacion in Malita.
“We are also inspecting some school buildings, such as the four-storey building at the Mariano Peralta National High School in Malita for any damage,” he added. Edwin Fernandez, Che Palicte and Richelyn Gubalani / PNA – northboundasia.com