A magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck the central Philippines on Tuesday, as rescuers dug through rubble searching for survivors after a supermarket collapsed during a temblor in the north less than 24 hours earlier, officials said.
The fresh quake struck at 1:37 p.m. near San Juan town in Eastern Samar province, damaging properties and causing a few non-fatal injuries, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said. The temblor came as the death toll reached at least 16 from a 6.1 magnitude quake that struck shortly after 5 p.m. Monday in northern Pampanga province, and was felt in Manila and other nearby cities.
BenarNews staff who traveled to devastated areas saw rescuers digging through what used to be a supermarket in Porac town in Pampanga. Cheers broke out when two people were freed from the rubble – another five survivors were pulled out later.
“They really didn’t stop, so many helped to recover the seven survivors. Rescuers can still hear people making sounds which they took as a sign of life,” Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda told a local radio station.
The Philippine Red Cross reported that 19 people were trapped in the rubble, while 59 were injured and brought to hospitals. It said it would continue to assist and had provided body bags to transport those killed by the quake.
“We are all together. The Red Cross continues the search and rescue operations for the missing individuals at Chuzon Supermarket,” said Sen. Richard Gordon, the Red Cross chairman in the Philippines. “We deployed our assets from nearby chapters to provide additional manpower in affected areas. No one shall be left behind.”
Along with those killed, at least 81 others were injured and 14 are missing, according to officials. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said five were killed in the supermarket, seven others died elsewhere in Porac and four others were killed in nearby municipalities.
On Tuesday, many areas were without electricity and more than 100 families had been forced from their homes, officials said. Rescuers using heavy equipment to comb through debris had to rely on portable lighting powered by generators.
As emergency crews focused on rescue efforts in the north, the second quake rocked Eastern Samar on Tuesday, triggering panic shortly after lunch time.
In the coastal city of Tacloban, which suffered from Super Typhoon Haiyan that left more than 6,300 dead across the nation six years ago, the sudden jolt caused many people to rush out of offices and schools, officials said. At least one school in the city was damaged heavily, but there were no reports of injuries.
“People are struggling with fear and trauma as rumors quickly spread of a tsunami,” police chief Col. Michael David told a Manila radio station. “Please don’t panic. There is no tsunami alert.”
Meanwhile, Pineda said she had called for the entire Pampanga province to be placed under a special designation because so many people need assistance following the earthquake.
“I recommended the declaration of a state of calamity. The casualties need support. Our priority right now is rescue, there’s still someone crying for help. We should be very careful,” she said.
Rodora Lamoste Traymos, who was in a shopping mall in the city of Angeles with her family on Monday said she thought she would die when the quake hit.
“It was really strong. We panicked while inside the mall. I ran toward the playstation to get my son to hide under a table,” she said.
The Philippines sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where earthquakes are common. In October 2013, nearly 100 people died after a powerful earthquake violently shook Bohol Island in central Philippines.