Scramble to save trapped victims as Philippine quake toll rises

Rescuers at the South Green Marketing building in Davao del Sur province which collapsed in Sunday's magnitude-6.8 quake. Two bodies were pulled out from the building yesterday, while a third one could not be immediately retrieved, as rescuers scramb
Rescuers at the South Green Marketing building in Davao del Sur province which collapsed in Sunday's magnitude-6.8 quake. Two bodies were pulled out from the building yesterday, while a third one could not be immediately retrieved, as rescuers scrambled to find at least seven more people who were trapped inside. At least five people have died in the quake.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

PADADA • Rescuers pulled out two bodies yesterday from a three-storey building that collapsed in a strong earthquake in the southern Philippines and scrambled to find at least seven more people who were trapped inside.

Army troops, police, firefighters and volunteers, armed with sound and motion detectors, located a third body in the rubble of the building in Davao del Sur province's Padada town, but could not immediately extricate the remains pinned by slabs of cement, said Padada Mayor Pedro Caminero.

At least five people died in Sunday's magnitude-6.8 quake which struck Padada and outlying rural towns, cities and provinces in a region that has been battered by three deadly earthquakes in recent months.

A child died after being hit by a collapsed wall in her house and a woman in her 70s died from a heart attack during the quake, officials said. "We are looking for about seven more," Mr Caminero said by phone from Padada.

Distraught families waited in a cordoned area as rescuers worked overnight in search of their relatives.

Several shoppers managed to dash out of the building, which housed a grocery store, as the ground shook. A number of them were escorted out with injuries.

A total of 84 people were injured in the quake, officials said.

A city and four towns near the quake's epicentre were still without power yesterday, and classes were cancelled in a broad area to give time for inspections of school buildings.

The Davao region has been hit by at least three powerful earthquakes in recent months, causing several deaths and scores of injuries and badly damaging houses, town halls, hotels, malls and hospitals.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2019, with the headline 'Scramble to save trapped victims as Philippine quake toll rises'. Print Edition | Subscribe