3rd strong earthquake this month jolts southern Philippines

A resident walks past destroyed houses after a 6.6-magnitude earthquake hit Tulunan town, North Cotabato province, on the southern island of Mindanao on October 29, 2019. (AFP / Manman Dejeto)
Updated 01 November 2019

3rd strong earthquake this month jolts southern Philippines

  • USGS says the epicenter was not far from that of the October 29 earthquake that killed 7 people

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.

Afghan study offer draws Pakistani students

Updated 7 min 49 sec ago

Afghan study offer draws Pakistani students

  • Medicine gets top marks among 150 scholarship hopefuls

PESHAWAR: About 150 students from northwestern Pakistan traveled to Afghanistan this month to take part in tests that could win them Afghan government scholarships for higher education, particularly in medicine.  

The Afghan government pays for 104 scholarships for Pakistanis every year, the Afghan consulate in Peshawar said. 

“Medical education is expensive in Pakistan, so we decided to pursue education in Afghanistan,“ Sana Gul told Arab News.

Gul was among 150 young Pakistanis who left for Kabul last Saturday to attend the scholarship tests.

The group included 11 female students who want to study medicine. 

Gul said that the Pakistanis are hoping that security will improve in Afghanistan, and that peace talks between the Taliban and the Kabul government in Qatar will end with a power-sharing deal.

“We believe the peace process will end with good news, so we are traveling to Kabul,” said Gul, who is accompanied by her sister, Spogami. Both have passed 12th-grade exams.

Their father, Farman Khan, a teacher in the Mardan district, said that his daughters made the decision to go to Afghanistan. 

“We allowed them to decide for themselves and we will stand by them,” he said, adding that he believes the region is now safe “for those who seek education.” 

Arshad Mehsud from South Waziristan also traveled to Afghanistan for the scholarship test in the hope of studying medicine.

“There is no doctor in my village,” he said. “So after completing this degree, I will come back to serve the people of Waziristan.”