Powerful 6.7 magnitude earthquake strikes southern Philippines

A screengrab of a map of the Philippines depicting the extent of the earthquake on November 17, 2023. — USGS
A screengrab of a map of the Philippines depicting the extent of the earthquake on November 17, 2023. — USGS

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said that a powerful earthquake of magnitude 6.7 struck the southern Philippines on Friday, forcing people to escape buildings and resulting in the collapse of a portion of a shopping centre ceiling.

The USGS said in a statement that no tsunami warning was issued following the earthquake that occurred at 08:14 GMT off the coast of Sarangani province on Mindanao, the main southern island, at a depth of over 60 kilometres.

The power of the earthquake was previously reported to be between magnitude 7.2 and 6.9.

The country’s seismology office reported that the earthquake lasted several seconds and warned locals to be on the lookout for aftershocks and damage, even though there were no early reports of injuries.

“I think it was the strongest earthquake I’ve ever experienced,” a resident of Davao City, about 200 kilometres (124 miles) from the epicentre, said where she was attending a conference.

“People around me were panicking and running to go outside. There are hundreds of people here at the event, so I was more scared of a stampede happening to be honest.”

According to AFP, a photo shared on Facebook showed a collapsed ceiling inside a shopping mall in General Santos City, less than 100 kilometres from the epicentre.

Additionally, about 30 students at a high school in the city were treated for breathing difficulties due to panic following the quake, said Adrian Imbong, an emergency medical services worker.

There have been no reports of injuries, according to Amor Mio, the police commander of Koronadal City, which is close to the epicentre of the earthquake.

However, authorities were examining a mall that had reportedly been damaged.

“The employees were ordered evacuated for their safety. According to police in the area, there was extensive damage but we could not ascertain definitely yet the extent,” Mio said by telephone.

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