CIDADE GERAL DE SANTOS — People ran out of buildings during a 6.8 magnitude earthquake shook much of Mindanao on Friday afternoon.
Reports collected by the Inquirer showed that those who remained inside commercial and office buildings, including shopping centers, sought protection under tables and desks, leaving them begging and praying that the intense ground shaking would soon stop.
The earthquake occurred at a depth of 72 kilometers, with its epicenter 34 kilometers northwest of Sarangani Island in Davao Occidental province, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
Friday’s earthquake, one of the strongest to hit Mindanao since 2019, occurred at 4:14 pm and was felt in six regions – South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos), Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao.
Police said two residents were killed when a wall inside Amadeo Complex, a residential village in Barangay San Isidro in this city, collapsed.
Police Captain The victims were identified as Danny Ginung, 26, and Jane Ginung, 18, both employees of Amadeo Pathwoods.
The earthquake was felt with intensity 6 in Kiamba, Sarangani; parts of South Cotabato; and General Santos City.
It was felt at intensity 5 in Pantucan, Davao de Oro; Tagum City, Davao North; Jose Abad Santos, Davao West; Label, Maasim and Malungon in Sarangani; Banga, Lake Sebu, Tampakan and Tupi in South Cotabato; and Tacurong town in Sultan Kudarat.
In Zamboanga City, about 400 km away, the earthquake was reported at intensity 4, as was in Magsaysay, Davao del Sur; Davao City; Banisilan City, Kabacan and Kidapawan in Cotabato; Malapatan, Sarangani; Coronation City, Norala and Santo Niño in South Cotabato; President Quirino and Senator Ninoy Aquino in Sultan Kudarat; Bislig City and Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur; Datu Odin Sinsuat, North Maguindanao; and Cotabato City.
Many people were rushed to different hospitals in this city, most complaining of dizziness and hyperventilation, and others still in a state of shock.
Colonel Nicomedes Olaivar Jr., director of the Sarangani provincial police, told a local radio station that they were regulating the flow of traffic, especially as many vehicles and ambulances were entering the city to bring patients for medical care at various hospitals.
They are also increasing police presence throughout the city to prevent possible looting of commercial establishments, as power was not immediately restored after the earthquake. At City Hall, lighting is provided by solar-powered equipment.
Reports at 7pm showed that power supply had been restored in some parts of General Santos.
The earthquake collapsed part of the wall of a local shopping mall and the roof of another. Witnesses said several people were injured inside the two shopping malls, but their reports have not yet been confirmed by local disaster response units.
According to Rene Punzalan, Sarangani’s head of disaster response, they are having difficulty immediately coordinating with several cities due to a landslide along the national highway in the town of Glan.
The wall of the Pangolima Integrated School reportedly collapsed in the village of Sapu Padidu, in the city of Malapatan.
In a statement, the city council of General Santos urged the population to remain calm, but warned of possible aftershocks, citing an alert from Phivolcs.
“In addition, we inform you that work in the city government is also suspended, pending structural integrity assessments,” he said.
In a statement, Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil said on Friday: “The President has directed all relevant government agencies to take immediate action to ensure the safety and well-being of those affected.”
—REPORTS BY ALLEN V. STABILLO, RYAN D. ROSAURO, GILLIAN VILLANUEVA AND NESTOR CORRALES