A powerful earthquake measuring 7.2 in magnitude shook the southern region of Mindanao in the Philippines on November 17. The death toll climbed to seven on Saturday. Additionally, rescue efforts were underway to locate two individuals feared to be buried beneath a landslide.
As per the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, the earthquake occurred at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles) beneath the sea, as reported by the news agency PTI. In contrast, the US Geological Survey reported the earthquake as a magnitude 6.7, with the epicenter located 26 kilometers (16 miles) from Burias, at the southern tip of the Philippines. The USGS also indicated a low probability of casualties and damage resulting from the quake.
The Philippines frequently witnesses earthquakes and volcanic eruptions owing to its position on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of seismic faults encircling the ocean, as reported by the news agency Associated Press.
According to Teresito Bacolco, the director of the Philippine seismology agency PHIVOLCS, as reported on DZRH radio, the earthquake persisted for several seconds. He advised residents to remain vigilant for potential aftershocks, cautioning that they could be as strong as magnitude 6.2.
Falling debris from a mall in General Santos City led to the death of a woman, as confirmed by city police captain Ari Noel Cardos to AFP. Before this, the police had reported the demise of a couple who were trapped under a collapsing concrete wall in General Santos.
Another individual lost their life when a falling steel structure occurred in the municipality of Glan, located in Sarangani province, according to police officer Paul Mesalido. In a separate incident, firefighters engaged in a search on Saturday for two members of a family who were feared to be buried beneath a landslide in a remote mountain village approximately four hours’ drive from Glan, as mentioned by rescuer Daniel Nocos to AFP.
The official National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in Manila reported a second death in Glan and another in the adjacent Malapatan municipality, although no details were provided. In the neighboring Davao Occidental province, an elderly man lost his life when a large rock rolled down a hill near his house, according to police officer Patrick Laurente.
In General Santos, two people were injured, and 450 others were treated for panic and breathing difficulties, as reported by the disaster agency. The earthquake caused damage to 60 houses in four provinces and impacted 32 roads and bridges in the region, according to rescuers.
The state seismology service indicated that the quake was likely generated by the movement of the earth’s crust along the Cotabato trench, a long, narrow depression on the seafloor that forms the boundary of one tectonic plate pushing against another.