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Two Powerful Earthquakes Strike Southern Philippines

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Numerous buildings were damaged and hundreds evacuated from their homes as two powerful earthquakes hit the southern Philippines on Tuesday.

(6 a.m. GMT), a few kilometers from the municipality of Maragosan in the mountainous gold-mining province of Davao de Oro on the island of Mindanao, the US Geological Survey said.

Local authorities said there were no reports of injuries or serious damage.

But a second quake measuring 5.6 struck nearly three hours later in the neighboring municipality of New Bataan, causing some houses to collapse.

Nearly 300 people have been forced to leave their homes in Andab village, where “a number of homes have collapsed,” said Lynn Dololasa, disaster management officer in New Bataan.

About 100 people inside a shopping mall in Tagum City, in neighboring Davao del Norte province, were injured by falling glasses and plates as they fled the building, Jay Swaypagio, the county information officer, said.

“I was on the third floor buying office supplies when the earthquake suddenly hit,” Sowaibagyo told AFP.

“When we got to the first floor, we saw broken bottles of wine and spices. The lights were out but the emergency lights were on, which helped us find our way.”

Photos posted on the Davao del Norte disaster agency’s Facebook page showed sections of the roof collapsed inside the Tagum shopping centre, which it attributed to a “series of earthquake incidents”.

The government of Davao del Norte suspended work and school on Tuesday and Wednesday to allow inspections of public buildings and infrastructure.

fire ring

The corporal said the first quake lasted about 30 seconds and was followed by aftershocks. Stephanie Clemen, a police officer in Tagum, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Maragosan.

“We immediately went under our desks and when the ground stopped shaking we went straight out,” Clement told AFP.

“We’re still outside because a moderate aftershock just hit us.”

Kleimen said that while the quake did not appear to have destroyed anything, it was strong enough to “create fear.”

Earthquakes occur on a daily basis in the Philippines which lies along the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, an arc of intense seismic and volcanic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific Basin.

Most earthquakes are too weak for humans to feel, but strong and destructive earthquakes come randomly with no technology available to predict when and where they will occur.

The country’s civil defense bureau regularly conducts earthquake simulation drills along active fault lines.

The last major earthquake occurred in the northern Philippines in October.

The 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit the mountain town of Dolores in Apra County, injuring several people, damaging buildings and cutting power to most of the area.

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake in the mountainous Abra region last July triggered landslides and fissures, killing 11 people and injuring several hundred.

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