6.5 Quake in Samar; 2nd Quake in PH

MANILA (AFP) – Philippine rescuers were scrambling on Tuesday (April 23) to reach about two dozen people feared buried under a building near Manila that collapsed a day earlier in a strong earthquake, as again a powerful new second quake hit the nation.

The US Geological Survey put the fresh quake on the central island of Samar at magnitude 6.5, which is stronger than the one that hit close to the capital in the north on Monday.

The authorities were assessing possible damage from the latest quake, which struck at a depth of 70km, but warned that residents should expect aftershocks.

The US Geological Survey said the earthquake hit near Tutubigan, which is hundreds of kilometers south of the quake that hit near Manila.

USGS downgraded the magnitude of the fresh quake after initially recording it at 6.6.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Cebu Pacific said some of its flights had to be canceled after the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) temporarily closed the runway at the Clark International Airport until Wednesday.

The worst of Monday’s damage was in the province of Pampanga, which was the site of most of the 11 fatalities, disaster officials said.

More than 100 others were injured by falling rubble, including in Manila, according to police.

The toll could rise as crews fanned out across the mostly rural region to assess damage in isolated hamlets that lost power and communications in one of the area’s strongest tremors in years. More than 400 aftershocks have been registered since the initial quake, Philippine seismologists said.

Scores of rescuers in the town of Porac were using cranes and jackhammers to peel back the pancaked concrete structure of a four-story market building where the Red Cross said 24 people were unaccounted for.

“Every minute, every second is critical in this rescue,” Cris Palcis, a volunteer sniffer dog handler, told AFP. “Time is short for the people under the rubble so we have to be quick.” Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda told journalists that rescuers could still hear at least one person trapped beneath the rubble, but the digging was proceeding delicately to avoid accidentally crushing the survivor.

The quake also damaged several centuries-old churches which were crowded with worshippers in recent days as the majority-Catholic Philippines marked the Easter holiday.

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