Published: July 7,2017
Soldiers and engineers were sent to villages hit hardest by a strong earthquake that struck the Philippines Thursday, killing at least two people, injuring dozens more and triggering landslides.
The shallow 6.5 magnitude quake was centered in Leyte province Thursday afternoon and cracked buildings and roads across the central Philippines. While the U.S. Geological Survey said the tremor struck at a depth of 4 miles, Filipino seismologists said it was 1.2 miles deep and was caused by movement of the Philippine Fault.
In addition to the two deaths, four people remained missing Friday. In the hard-hit Leyte town of Kananga, a building with a grocery store and other businesses collapsed during the quake, killing one person, injuring 20 and trapping six people who were eventually rescued, Kananga Mayor Rowena Codilla told the Associated Press by cellphone.
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"I can see that the child looks pale and weak, but the others are OK," Codilla said as she watched medics treating the victims. She said many people managed to dash out when the building started to sway, but those stuck inside guided the rescuers by cellphone to where they were trapped.
A big chunk of the eastern side of the central Philippines was without electricity because a geothermal power plant in the town of Jaro sustained damage, said Romina Marasigan, spokeswoman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council. She said some houses in upland villages, mostly made of light materials, have been totally damaged.
More than 241 aftershocks were recorded up to early Friday, Marasigan said, warning that they could trigger landslides in upland areas, especially in areas where it has also been raining.
Mayor Richard Gomez of Ormoc city, about 17 miles from Kananga, told DZMM radio that a landslide hit a house and killed a young woman. More than 100 others were injured in the area, including many who were "traumatized and hysterical," he said.
Ormoc's airport was closed after the quake damaged its runway, Gomez said.
Maj. Gen. Raul Farnacio, an army commander in the area, said local officials in outlying villages of Kananga and Ormoc on Friday reported at least four people missing in landslides. Soldiers and army engineers have been dispatched to the villages, where some roads are reportedly not passable to vehicles, he added.
Delia Vilbar, the treasurer of Ormoc, said she was attending a meeting on the second floor of City Hall when the earthquake struck.
"It was very strong, and the building was shaking," she said. "I sat down while others in the room went under the table."
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When she went outside to the street, she saw people crying and embracing each other, she said.
The quake struck in a region that was devastated in 2013 by Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing, leveled entire villages and displaced more than 5 million villagers. Tacloban city, which was hard hit by Haiyan, lost electrical power after Thursday's earthquake.
The Philippines sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where earthquakes and volcanoes are common. A magnitude 7.7 quake killed nearly 2,000 people in the northern Philippines in 1990.
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