Deadly new quake hits south Philippines

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A powerful earthquake struck the southern Philippines on Thursday, crushing a man under falling debris and sparking searches of seriously damaged buildings that had already been rattled by two previous deadly tremors.

The 6.5 magnitude quake hit the island of Mindanao, the US Geological Survey said, causing locals to run to safety in the same area where a strong tremor killed eight people on Tuesday.

The powerful shaking caused serious damage to a condominium building in the major southern city of Davao, which was about 45 kilometres (28 miles) from the epicentre.

At least eight people were hurt at the building, and rescuers had launched a search to determine if residents might be trapped inside, police told media.

A collapsed structure in another town crushed and killed a local official who was inside to help with an improvised medical treatment centre set up after the previous quakes.

A hotel partially collapsed in another area, but a disaster official told media the building had already been evacuated.

Locals have been left terrified by a string of powerful quakes, and hundreds of aftershocks since the first powerful tremor struck on October 16.

“Everyone rushed outside,” said Reuel Limbungan, mayor of the Tulunan town, which was once again near the epicentre. “It was as strong as the previous one.”

Hundreds of families on Mindanao island, which makes up the southern third of the Philippines, have been living in shelters because they are afraid to go home.

USGS initially said the quake had a magnitude of 6.8, and added there was no threat of a tsunami.

The Philippines suffers regular tremors as part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.

In the 6.6 magnitude quake on Tuesday, a teenage boy was crushed by a falling wall as he tried to escape his school in Magsaysay, the town spokesman told media. Though other students were injured in a “stampede” to escape the building, they survived.

Rock and landslides unleashed by the violent shaking killed four others, while a collapsed wall crushed a man, authorities said.

At least 50 people were hurt by falling debris, including some seven pupils and teachers hurt escaping their collapsed elementary school.

The area was still suffering the effects of a 6.4-magnitude quake that hit less than two weeks ago, killing at least five people and damaging dozens of buildings.

Residents fled homes across the Mindanao region and a mall caught fire in the city of General Santos shortly after the quake struck on October 16.

Hundreds of people were still displaced two weeks after that quake when the new one struck earlier this week, forcing hundreds more from their homes.

One of the deadliest quakes to hit the Philippines recently was in April, when 16 people were killed as a building near the capital Manila collapsed and the secondary Clark airport was shut down due to damage to the passenger terminal.

High-rise structures in the capital swayed after the April quake, leaving some with large cracks in their walls.