Major aftershocks jolt Philippines after magnitude 7.6 quake

1 / 2
Residents and medical personnel evacuate patients from inside a hospital after a 7.6 earthquake struck Butuan City, in southern island of Mindanao late Dec. 2, 2023. (AFP)
2 / 2
People gather along a street after evacuating from inside buildings after a 7.6 earthquake struck Butuan City, in southern island of Mindanao late Dec. 2, 2023. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 03 December 2023
Follow

Major aftershocks jolt Philippines after magnitude 7.6 quake

  • The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially said that based on the magnitude and location, it expected tsunami waves to hit the southern Philippines
  • In Japan, authorities issued evacuation orders in various parts of Okinawa Prefecture

MANILA: A powerful magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck the southern Philippines on Saturday, the US Geological Survey reported, followed by four major aftershocks that sent residents fleeing from coastal areas amid fears of a tsunami.
The initial quake struck off the coast of the country at a depth of 32 kilometers (20 miles) at 10:37 p.m. local time (1437 GMT) about 21 kilometers northeast of Hinatuan municipality on Mindanao island, the USGS said.
Early on Sunday, over the span of several hours, four powerful aftershocks of magnitudes 6.4, 6.2, 6.1 and 6.0 rumbled through the region, the USGS said.
The initial quake triggered tsunami warnings — which were later downgraded — across the Pacific region and sent residents in northeast Mindanao fleeing buildings, evacuating a hospital and seeking higher ground.
“Destructive tsunami is expected with life threatening wave heights,” the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said on X, formerly Twitter.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii also issued an alert but later posted that the danger had passed.
“There is no longer a tsunami threat from this earthquake,” it said in a message.
The Philippines seismology institute said in a bulletin at 3:23 am (1923 GMT) local time that the highest waves generated by the seismic activity were .64 meters (25 inches) tall on Mawes Island, but that the tsunami warning had ended.
Small swells were reported as far as Japan’s eastern Pacific coast, where a tsunami warning was also briefly in effect. Palau, a western Pacific archipelago some 900 kilometers (560 miles) off Mindanao, reported no impact.
Hinatuan police Sergeant Joseph Lambo said the quake was “very strong” but that there were no reports of casualties or major property damage.
“Appliances fell off the shelves at the police office and two TV sets were broken. The motorcycles parked outside also tumbled down,” Lambo told AFP.
“Right now we don’t have reports of damage or casualties but people are evacuating because of the tsunami alert.”
Lambo said the 45,000 residents in the municipality had been ordered to leave their homes and many were going on foot or in vehicles to higher ground.
A video posted on social media and verified by AFP showed bottles of drinks and other products falling off shelves in a convenience store as staff fled outside.
Another video, shot by Dennis Orong, showed people screaming as they ran along a street in Lianga, a coastal municipality of Surigao del Sur.
“I was shaking in fear, mainly because of exploding electric poles,” the 26-year-old hairdresser told AFP.
“It was very traumatic.”

Social media reports of a tsunami hitting Lingig municipality, about 35 kilometers south of Hinatuan, were “fake news,” said police Master Sergeant Robert Quesada.
“We’re at low tide,” he said.
“People evacuated away from the coast soon after. We can’t say how many at this point, but pretty much the entire town is along the coast.”
Many people, including Bethanie Valledor, were asleep when the quake struck.
“I felt like the room we’re staying in would be destroyed,” Valledor, 24, told AFP after fleeing the resort where she had been staying, about 20 kilometers southwest of Hinatuan.
“Our place is very near the sea. The resort owner asked us to evacuate immediately. Honestly, I was screaming. I panicked.”
In Butuan City, northwest of Hinatuan, orderlies evacuated patients on gurneys and in wheelchairs from a hospital, their drip and IV bags hanging from support stands.
The quake came nearly two weeks after a 6.7 magnitude quake hit Mindanao, killing at least nine people, shaking buildings and causing part of the ceiling of a shopping mall to collapse.
Quakes are a daily occurrence in the Philippines, which sits along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of intense seismic and volcanic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
Most are too weak to be felt by humans, but strong and destructive quakes come at random with no technology available to predict when and where they will happen.
 

 


Ukraine military destroys Russian surveillance plane — air force commander

Updated 2 sec ago
Follow

Ukraine military destroys Russian surveillance plane — air force commander

KYIV: Ukraine’s military on Friday destroyed a Russian A-50 surveillance aircraft, Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk said, the second time in a little more than a month that Ukraine has reported downing the sophisticated plane.
“The A-50 with the call sign ‘Bayan’ has flown its last!” Oleshchuk wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Interfax Ukraine news agency quoted military sources as saying the A-50 was downed over Russian territory, between the cities of Rostov-on-Don and Krasnodar. The operation was carried out, it said, by the air force and the intelligence directorate.
Russian news agencies quoted emergency services in southern Krasnodar region as saying that fragments of an aircraft were found in marshland in Kanevskoy district and firefighters extinguished a blaze.
The report made no reference to the A-50.
Ukraine’s military in January said its air force destroyed a Russian Beriev A-50 surveillance plane and an Ilyushin Il-22 airborne command post in the Sea of Azov.
The A-50, which first came into service near the end of the Soviet era, is a large airborne early warning and control aircraft that can scan several hundred kilometers for enemy aircraft, ships and missiles.
Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate, told the Financial Times a month ago that Russia had eight A-50s at that time.

Spanish politician shot in Madrid points finger at Iran

Updated 23 February 2024
Follow

Spanish politician shot in Madrid points finger at Iran

  • Alejo Vidal-Quadras was shot in the face in broad daylight near his home in the upscale Salamanca neighbourhood on November 9 by a motorcycle passenger
  • "I have no doubt that it was the Iranian regime," the 78-year-old, who was European Parliament vice-president between 2009 and 2014, told a news conference

MADRID: A right-wing Spanish politician who was shot in November in Madrid on Friday accused Iran of being behind his attempted murder during his first public appearance since the attack.
Alejo Vidal-Quadras, a founder of Spain's far-right Vox party and former head of its centre-right People's Party in Catalonia who has long supported Iran's opposition movement, was shot in the face in broad daylight near his home in the upscale Salamanca neighbourhood on November 9 by a motorcycle passenger.
"I have no doubt that it was the Iranian regime," the 78-year-old, who was European Parliament vice-president between 2009 and 2014, told a news conference in the Spanish capital.
Tehran has "a long tradition, a track record, of extraterritorial terrorist activities" against "dissidents and against foreigners who support then," he added, without offering any proof to back up his claim.
Four people have been arrested as part of the investigation into the shooting, but the suspected gunman -- a French national of Tunisian origin with several previous convictions in France, remains at large.
Police have not commented on a possible motive for the shooting.
Vidal-Quadras, who already pointed the finger at Iran when he was questioned by police after the shooting, said it was a "miracle" that he survived.
"I made a movement of my head that meant that the shot, which was supposed to be fatal, was not," he said.
The bullet entered one side of his jaw and exited the other, and Vidal-Quadras spent time in hospital recovering from a jaw fracture.
"The detonation sounded like a thunderclap in my head, in fact I have a perforated eardrum, and I started bleeding, it caused a puddle on the floor," he said.
Vidal-Quadras said he believes the quick intervention of a passer-by, who stopped the bleeding with a piece of clothing, saved his life.
He said he has suffered from after-effects since the shooting, including "some paralysis of the facial muscles".
Vidal-Quadras, a top member of the International Committee in Search of Justice which supports the "Iranian resistance", has long called for the international community to harden its position towards Iran.


Five migrants die as boat capsizes during rescue off Malta

Updated 23 February 2024
Follow

Five migrants die as boat capsizes during rescue off Malta

  • Some 21 migrants were rescued and taken to a migrant center
  • They are believed to be from Syria, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Egypt

VALLETTA, Malta: Five migrants, including a woman, died when their boat capsized as they were being rescued off Malta on Friday, the island’s armed forces said.
Another eight were injured and taken to hospital, including two who swallowed a considerable amount of seawater and fuel.
Armed Forces of Malta deputy commander Col. Edric Zahra told reporters that the incident happened at about midday when the eight-meter (26-ft) boat was four miles (6.5 km) south of Malta.
Some 21 migrants were rescued and taken to a migrant center. They are believed to be from Syria, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Egypt.
Mediterranean sea crossings from North Africa to Italy or Malta are among the most dangerous migration routes in the world. Last year almost 2,500 migrants died or went missing on those routes, the International Organization for Migration says.
The vast majority of migrants head for Italy. Malta’s armed forces rescued 380 migrants at sea last year, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri said in parliament in January.


Russia says its forces push further west after taking Ukraine’s Avdiivka

Updated 23 February 2024
Follow

Russia says its forces push further west after taking Ukraine’s Avdiivka

  • Russian forces had also destroyed a number of Western-provided Ukrainian weapons
  • The frontlines in the war had not shifted substantially since late 2022 before the taking of Avdiivka

MOSCOW: Russian forces have advanced further to the west after taking control of the Ukrainian town of Avdiivka, the defense ministry said on Friday.
It said Russian forces had also destroyed a number of Western-provided Ukrainian weapons in the past week including seven British-supplied Storm Shadow cruise missiles, a US Patriot anti-aircraft guided missile and launch vehicle, and 42 HIMARS rockets fired by multiple launch systems.
Reuters could not independently verify battlefield reports.
The frontlines in the war, which started two years ago on Saturday, had not shifted substantially since late 2022 before the taking of Avdiivka, and Russia still controls just under a fifth of Ukrainian territory.
The capture of Avdiivka, following months of fighting with heavy casualties on both sides, was Russia’s first significant gain since taking the city of Bakhmut last May.
After taking Avdiivka, units of the “Center” group of Russian forces “continued advancing in a westerly direction,” the defense ministry statement said.
“In cooperation with aviation and artillery, they defeated accumulations of manpower and equipment of the Ukrainian Armed Forces” in six nearby settlements, it said.


UK, EU border agency sign migration pact

Updated 23 February 2024
Follow

UK, EU border agency sign migration pact

  • Friday’s agreement provides for the exchange of intelligence between Frontex and the UK Border Force
  • It also agrees to collaborate on the development of new technologies, such as the use of drones to protect borders, the Home Office added

LONDON: The United Kingdom on Friday signed an agreement with the EU border agency Frontex to jointly crack down on irregular immigration, the government in London said.
Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made stopping migrants from crossing the Channel on boats from France a priority before a general election due this year.
Friday’s agreement provides for the exchange of intelligence between Frontex and the UK Border Force to help disrupt people-smuggling gangs, Britain’s interior ministry said in a statement.
It also agrees to collaborate on the development of new technologies, such as the use of drones to protect borders, the Home Office added.
UK Border Force director general Phil Douglas and Frontex executive director Hans Leijtens signed the arrangement in London, witnessed by UK interior minister James Cleverly and the European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.
“Organized immigration crime and people smuggling are global challenges that require shared solutions and ambitions,” Cleverly said.
“Our landmark working arrangement between the UK and Frontex is another crucial step in tackling illegal migration, securing our borders and stopping the boats.”
The UK government says the number of migrants arriving on England’s south coast in rudimentary vessels fell by a third last year from a record high of 45,000 migrants in 2022.
The UK government called the deal “the latest step” in its “plan to tackle illegal migration and criminal gangs,” with the issue set to feature prominently in the general election campaign.