MANILA: A 6.5-magnitude earthquake rocked the southern Philippines on Thursday morning, the third powerful earthquake to hit the region in the last fortnight.
Terrified residents fled their homes, with videos on social media of people in the streets crying, taking solace in each other or praying.
There are initial reports of five people killed by the latest earthquake, bringing to 20 the total number of fatalities from all three.
The fatalities occurred in the town of Makilala, the hardest hit by the latest earthquake. Almost all structures were reported destroyed or damaged. Subsequent landslides left five villages in the town isolated.
A video posted online showed injured people being rescued after the roof of an evacuation center collapsed in Makilala.
The town of Tulunan, where 80 percent of structures were destroyed by the previous earthquake on Oct. 29, has seen further damage to homes and structures.
Officials in Makilala and Tulunan are appealing for help, particularly food, potable water, medicines and tents to shelter residents.
In Kidapawan, part of a six-story hotel collapsed. Occupants had reportedly been told earlier to vacate the building due to damage sustained from the previous earthquakes.
In Digos City, where a store partially collapsed, two people were injured, said Mayor Josef Cagas. They were rescued and taken to hospital. In Davao City, nine people were injured when a five-storey condominium collapsed.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who was at his Davao City home when the earthquake struck, was reported safe. But Sen. Christopher Go said his home and that of Duterte sustained cracks on the walls.
The president’s office said he is closely monitoring developments in the worst-hit areas. Duterte has ordered all government agencies to submit a report on the earthquake, to ensure government buildings and public school buildings are safe, and to ensure evacuees are located in safe areas.
Eight people were killed and 395 injured in the Oct. 29 earthquake. Seven people were killed and 215 injured in the Oct. 16 earthquake.