Free Press Journal



44 killed including school children after a severe 6.9 magnitude quake hits the third- largest island in Philippines


At least 44 people, including school children were killed today after a severe 6.9 magnitude

quake hit the thirdlargest island in the Philippines and causing buildings to collapse and shutting down power supply, PTI reports.

The strong quake prompted authorities to issue a tsunami warning which was lifted later in the day. The quake struck about 70 kilometers from the coastal city of Dumaguete on the Philippine island of Negros, the US Geological Survey said.

The dead included two elementary school children, authorities said, according to the Philippines News Agency. The girls died when walls at their schools collapsed on them, National Police spokesman Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz Jr.

said. ” The death toll from a strong earthquake that jolted central Philippine province of Negros Oriental on Monday morning rose to 44,” a military official was quoted as saying by a media report.

The earthquake also caused cracked walls and shattered windows in a department store on Negros, said Balido, the military assistant for operations at the civil defense office.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology earlier issued a level 2 tsunami alert for areas along the Tanon Strait between Negros and the neighboring island of Cebu.

Benito Ramos, Executive Director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council ( NDRRMC) said that a series of aftershocks followed the initial quake, including one with a magnitude of 6.2 at the epicentre hours after the initial earthquake hit.

Night has fallen, causing problems for search and rescue workers sent to area, Ramos said.

He said local governments are coordinating with military and police for search and rescue operations in the area where numerous houses and buildings had collapsed due to landslides.

He added that evacuation centers have been set up in the 2 areas. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology ( Philvolcs) issued a tsunami alert for the area, but had lifted it later in the day.

The alert, a notch below the highest tsunami alert of level 3, which required evacuation of the affected areas was later lifted after an observation period, according to the Philippines News Agency.

No tsunami warning was issued for the wider Pacific region, and there was no tsunami threat to Hawaii, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. The earthquake occurred in the ocean at a depth of 46.6 kilometers, according to the USGS. Phivolcs has recorded 157 aftershocks in the area, as of Monday night. Fifty of the 157 aftershocks were felt mostly in Negros Oriental, the agency said. It has cancelled the tsunami alert level 2 it earlier issued for coastal areas in Negros and Cebu.

The late morning quake in the Negros and Cebu region had caused panic in nearby cities, with people rushing out of schools, malls and offices.

Work was immediately suspended in Government offices and schools.

The Philippines is situated in the so- called Ring of Fire, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.