6.9 quake hits Mindanao; shoppers, employees feared trapped as shopping center in Padada collapses

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 December) – A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck parts of Mindanao at 2:11 p.m. Sunday, the strongest of the series of powerful quakes in the last two months.

The state-run Philippine Information Agency reported that several shoppers and employees of the three-storey Southern Trade, a shopping center in Padada, Davao del Sur, are feared trapped when the building collapsed.

Rescuers call on persons trapped inside a shopping center that collpased in Padada, Davao del Sur during the 6.9 magnitude quake at 2:11 p.m. on Sunday, 15 December 2019. Photo by SAMANTHA BURGOS of Mindanao Times

The report quoted Engr. Luke Cadoyas, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer, as saying four who were near the building and were injured were rescued at around 3:30 p.m.

It was the fifth quake above Magnitude 6 that jolted Mindanao between October 16 and December 15: Magnitude 6.3 on October 16; 6.6 and 6.1 on October 29; 6.5 on October 31 and 6.9 on December 15.

In its Earthquake Information No. 1, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) initially reported the epicenter at 6 kilometers northwest of Padada in Davao del Sur, with a depth of 30 kilometers but later amended it to 9 km northwest of Matanao also in Davao del Sur, with a depth of 3 kilometers.

The intensities recorded by Phivolcs were 7 in Matanao and Magsaysay towns in Davao del Sur; 6 in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato; General Santos and Koronadal cities in South Cotabato; Bansalan in Davao del Sur; and Alabel and Malapatan in Sarangani.

The quake was felt at Intensity 5 in the cities of Davao and Cotabato; Tulunan and Matalam in North Cotabato; and Glan in Sarangani; Intensity 3 in Kalilangan, Talakag and Dangcagan in Bukidnon; Intensity 2 in Impasug-ong, Bukidnon and the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Dipolog; and Intensity 1 in Zamboanga del Sur.

Shoppers in various malls and department stores as well as movie houses in the quake-hit areas rushed out of the buildings, a number of them sustaining minor injuries. Several malls and other establishments also closed after their customers left the buildings.

In Padada, Davao del Sur, Cadoyas told PIA they need assistance as his team is not equipped and skilled for rescue in collapsed buildings.

He said an old water reservoir located at the public cemetery also collapsed, injuring eight residents.

The two-storey Canlas Commercial building also collapsed but there were no casualties reported.

In Kidapawan City, which registered Intensity 6, shoppers in one of the biggest malls scampered for safety and some ran towards the exit points.

The management immediately ordered the closure of its mall when everyone was out of the building.

The Gaisano Grand Mall of Kidapawan had just opened for business last month after the management completed the retrofitting of areas damaged by the series of four above-Magnitude 6 quakes between October 16 and 31.

Shoppers said they heard and saw several broken glassware at the mall’s second floor.

Children were the most traumatized, a certain Caryl Joy, also a shopper, said.  “I saw children crying, looking for their moms.   Some of them were placed inside the play house while their parents were doing the grocery,” she said.

Other grocery stores and restaurants were immediately closed for business after the ground shaking.

A bridge in Poblacion Magsaysay town in Davao del Sur in the aftermath of the Magnitude 6.9 quak at 2:11 p.m. Sunday, December 15, 2019. Photo by SAMANTHA BURGOS of Mindanao Times

In South Cotabato, Rolly Doane Aquino, operations and warning head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said that as of 3:50 p.m. there was no reported fatality across the province.

The 6.6-magntude earthquake that struck Mindanao on October 29 killed one person in Koronadal after falling debris hit him on the head.

Aquino said Sunday’s quake sent patients rushing out of their hospital beds to seek safety, just like what happened in October.

Also as a result of today’s quake, over a dozen individuals were rushed to the different hospitals mostly due to hyperventilation, Aquino said.

People inside the big shopping malls also rushed out of the malls that closed shop after the quake and succeeding aftershocks for safety. (Carolyn O. Arguillas, Malu Cadelina-Manar, Bong Sarmiento and Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)