A 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck the central Philippines today, killing at least one person inside a collapsed building with more people feared trapped inside, a local official said. Rescuers were rushing to the town of Kananga where a three-storey commercial building collapsed as the tremor struck the central island of Leyte, town mayor Rowena Codilla told DZBB radio. “We were able to retrieve one dead and one wounded,” Codilla said. The rescue is hampered by aftershocks that continued to rock the area and lack of proper equipment, she said. The official said she did not know how many more people were inside the building. The 10-year-old building housed a small hotel upstairs and shops on the ground floor, Codilla said, adding there was little damage elsewhere in the town.
The quake hit at a depth of around six kilometres (four miles), the US Geological Survey said. There was no immediate warning of a tsunami, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. Large parts of Leyte were devastated by super typhoon Haiyan in November 2013. Huge tsunami-like waves smashed the city of Tacloban and nearby areas, leaving 7,350 people dead or missing. A receptionist at Hotel XYZ told AFP the quake was felt in Tacloban, but did not damage buildings there.
“It was far away from here, we are okay,” the receptionist said. A receptionist at a hotel in another part of the city reported the quake was felt but did not cause damage in the area. “We are safe,” he said. In Cebu, the biggest city in the central Philippines, a receptionist at a hotel also said there had been no major damage. But people across the region of mostly farming and fishing communities reported feeling a powerful quake.
Marlon Tano, a Leyte farmer and journalist, told AFP it knocked him off his feet at his eggplant farm in Borauen, a town near the quake’s epicentre. “It was so strong that I fell,” Tano said. “I saw buses and motorcycles stopping on the highway and people getting off them,” he added. In February, a 6.5-magnitude quake killed eight people and left more than 250 injured outside the southern city of Surigao.
The following month a 5.9-magnitude tremor killed one person there in March. Before the Surigao quakes, the last lethal earthquake to hit the country was a 7.1-magnitude tremor that left more than 220 people dead and destroyed historic churches when it struck the central islands in October 2013. The Philippines lies on the so-called Ring of Fire, a vast Pacific Ocean region where many quakes and volcanic eruptions occur.