At least 5 dead, dozens injured in Cotabato quake

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 17) — Five were killed—including three children—  while dozens were injured when a magnitude 6.3 earthquake rocked North Cotabato province and parts of Mindanao Wednesday evening, local officials confirmed.

Tulunan town, North Cotabato Mayor Reuel Limbungan reported that a seven-year-old girl from Datu Paglas town died after debris hit her head when her house collapsed from the quake. The center of the earthquake was recorded 22 kilometers southeast of Tulunan town.

M’lang town Vice Mayor Joselito Piñol also confirmed that a male resident of his town died of a heart attack during the earthquake, which was felt at intensity 7 in the area. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) classifies intensity 7 as "destructive."

A five-year-old boy from Magsaysay, Davao del Sur also died when his house collapsed during the quake, the local government said. Authorities later reported that two more bodies — a child and a woman — were found. Davao Del Sur was among the provinces that felt the quake at intensity 6.

In its latest report, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that at least 53 people from the Davao Region, Soccsksargen, and the Bangsamoro region were also injured. Around 511 families, including 2,555 persons were affected, it added.

The Kidapawan City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) said there were three people from the city who suffered minor injuries. Among them was a pregnant woman who was in danger of a miscarriage. Kidapawan City CDRRMO and Public Safety Head Psalmer Bernalte said she was rushed to the hospital to undergo a cesarean operation.

He added that there were 54 recorded cases of hypertension from the affected residents. Bernalte said all Kidapawan residents were affected by the quake but he did not provide a specific number.

Kidapawan officials conducted a forced evacuation of some residents, including patients from the Kidapawan Doctors Hospital and the Midway Hospital. The patients are currently staying in a gym and sports center repurposed as an evacuation area.

The Philippine Red Cross has also deployed its personnel to the evacuation site. It also catered to 17 of the injured victims.

This is the second strong quake that hit Kidapawan City this year, Bernalte noted, following a magnitude 5.6 earthquake that rocked the city in July.

A total of 314 aftershocks were noted since Wednesday’s quake, but only five were felt, NDRRMC added.

Damaged buildings

The latest NDRRMC report said the earthquake partially damaged 85 structures from Davao Region and Soccsksargen — including schools and hospitals. NDRRMC said no buildings were totally damaged from the disaster.

However, a disaster risk official based in Davao Occidental said one “lightly built” house was totally damaged. Harry Camoro of the Davao Occidental Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said the agency has also recommended the closure and repair of some classrooms.

Other damaged infrastructures include the Gaisano Mall in General Santos City, which caught fire after the quake. Around 70 percent of the mall was engulfed by the blaze, according to the initial report from local authorities.

Four areas have also experienced power outages. General Santos City, Koronadal City and Luntayan, Sultan Kudarat had their power restored minutes after the earthquake, while power in Kidapawan is still out, NDRRMC said.

Malacañang said the Office of the President has directed government agencies to mobilize and provide assistance to quake victims, “as well as to study plans on how to rehabilitate the damaged areas.”

“We ask the public to remain calm but vigilant and we urge them to refrain from spreading disinformation that may cause undue alarm, panic and stress to many people,” the Palace said in a statement.

CNN Philippines' Kidapawan Stringer Abner Francisco and Digital Producer Alyssa Rola contributed to this report.