Child killed as quake strikes southern Philippines

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Above, damaged structures after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake centered 61 kilometers southwest of Davao hit on Sunday, December 15, 2019. (PIA Davao Region Facebook)
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Rescuers look for trapped victims at collapsed market building in Padada, Davao del Sur of southern Philippines on Sunday, December 15, 2019. (Vincent Yaj Makiputin via Reuters)
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Above, damaged structures after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake centered 61 kilometers southwest of Davao hit on Sunday, December 15, 2019. (PIA Davao Region Facebook)
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Trapped flower vendors are pulled out from a collapsed wall following a strong earthquake that struck Padada, Davao del Sur province, southern Philippines on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (John Angelo Jomao-as/AP)
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Above, damaged structures after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake centered 61 kilometers southwest of Davao hit on Sunday, December 15, 2019. (PIA Davao Region Facebook)
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Above, damaged structures after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake centered 61 kilometers southwest of Davao hit on Sunday, December 15, 2019. (PIA Davao Region Facebook)
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Residents look at a destroyed building after a 6.8magnitude earthquake in the town of Padada in Davao del Sur province on the southern island of Mindanao. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/AFP)
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Updated 15 December 2019

Child killed as quake strikes southern Philippines

  • A rescue operation had been launched at a heavily damaged market building in Padada
  • Patients were evacuated from hospitals as a precaution and nervous crowds massed outside shopping malls

MANILA: A powerful earthquake hit the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on Sunday, killing a child, injuring dozens and damaging buildings in an area still recovering from a string of deadly quakes in October.
Police said a rescue operation had been launched at a heavily damaged market building in Padada near the 6.8 magnitude quake’s epicenter, which is about 90 kilometers (55 miles) south of the major city of Davao.
Patients were evacuated from hospitals as a precaution and nervous crowds massed outside shopping malls after the jolt and dozens of smaller, but strong aftershocks.
“We can no longer use our office because the walls cracked and the stairs collapsed,” local police spokeswoman Lea Orbuda told AFP. “The power is off and the water taps are dry.”
A provincial police commander said the number of injured across the hardest hit areas had reached 62, with one confirmed fatality after a child was crushed under a collapsed structure.
The commander, Alberto Lupaz, said there appeared to be some people trapped under the damaged market building but rescue efforts had been delayed.
“They (rescuers) were attempting to check the rubble... the aftershocks were too strong,” Lupaz said.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who is from Davao, was caught up in the earthquake but was unharmed, officials said.
“The First Lady... said the car she was riding (in) was swaying,” spokesman Salvador Panelo said. “They are unhurt.”
There was no threat of a tsunami, said the US Geological Survey, which initially reported the magnitude at 6.9.
The Philippines is situated on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
Three quakes above 6.0 magnitude hit roughly the same area of Mindanao in a matter of weeks in October, killing some two dozen people and heavily damaging office buildings, schools and apartments.
Tens of thousands of people were forced into shelters by the string of tremors, the government said, either because their homes were damaged or they were too afraid to return.
Most of the deaths in October were due to collapsing walls and falling debris, including a teenage boy who was crushed by a falling wall as he tried to escape his school.
Other fatalities were attributed to rock and landslides unleashed by the violent shaking that injured at least 400 people.
The Philippines has been hit by several very powerful earthquakes in recent decades, including one of magnitude 7.8 that struck the northern resort town of Baguio in 1990.
That tremor toppled multi-story buildings and hotels, killing some 1,200 people.


Troops from Niger and France hunt for killers of aid workers in Niger nature reserve

The wreckage of the car where six French aid workers, their local guide and the driver were killed by unidentified gunmen riding motorcycles in an area of southwestern Niger. (AFP)
Updated 10 August 2020

Troops from Niger and France hunt for killers of aid workers in Niger nature reserve

  • Attackers on motorbikes ambushed the group of aid workers as they drove through the giraffe reserve
  • France has 5,100 troops deployed in the arid region south of the Sahara desert

NIAMEY: French and Nigerien soldiers searched through a giraffe reserve and the surrounding area in Niger on Monday for traces of the gunmen who killed six French aid workers, a French military source said.
France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor also opened an investigation into the incident, in which attackers on motorbikes ambushed the group as it drove through the reserve located 65 km (40 miles) from the capital Niamey — an area considered safe by the Niger government.
The French aid workers were employed by the charity ACTED. A local driver working for the relief group and a guide were also killed. ACTED called the murders “senseless and cowardly.”
“This heinous crime must not go unpunished, nor will it distract us from our commitment to support the people of Niger,” said ACTED, which has worked to help vulnerable populations in the country since 2010.
No one has claimed responsibility for the assault. But France and other countries have warned people against traveling to parts of Niger where militants including Boko Haram and an affiliate of Daesh operate.
“Military operations are ongoing today,” the military source said.
In the clearest sign yet that France believes a militant group was behind the attack, the office of France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor said it was launching an investigation on suspicion of the involvement of a terrorist group.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he shared their families’ grief. “Our determination to combat armed terrorist groups is resolute. The fight continues,” Macron tweeted.
The reserve southeast of Niamey is home to West Africa’s last sizeable population of giraffe in the wild. In the wet season, thick green acacia bushes dot the flat, sandy plains.
It is a popular attraction in Niger, a vast country that borders seven states in an unstable region including Libya, Mali, Chad, Algeria and Nigeria.
France, a former colonial power in the region, has 5,100 troops deployed in the arid region south of the Sahara desert since 2013. The United States also has soldiers based in Niger.
Nonetheless, militant violence has been on the rise.