A strong earthquake in the northern Philippines on Wednesday caused landslides and collapsed buildings, killing at least five people and injuring dozens. Hospital patients in the capital were evacuated and panicked people ran outside.
The 7-magnitude quake was centered in the mountainous region of Abra province, said Renato Solidum, head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, who described the aftershock as a major earthquake.
Michael Brillantes, a security officer in the city of Abra, said, “The ground was trembling as I was on a swing and the lights suddenly went out. We left the office, and I heard screams and some of my colleagues were in tears.” Lagangilang, near the epicenter.
“It was the most powerful earthquake I’ve felt and I thought the ground would open,” Brillantes told the Associated Press by cellphone.
At least five people died, most of them in collapsed structures. A villager was killed, injuring dozens of others when a cement slab fell on his house in Abra. In the province of Benguet, a worker died after a small building under construction collapsed in the strawberry-growing mountain town of La Trinidad.
Police Major Edwin Sergio told AFP that people ran outside as buildings in Dolores municipality shook and walls cracked.
“The earthquake was very strong,” Sergio said. He said the windows of the local market were broken.
A video posted on Facebook and verified by AFP shows cracks in the asphalt road and the ground in Banguede.
“Cracks are visible in some of the buildings here,” said police chief Major Nazareno Emiya. “The power was cut and the internet too.”
Walls of hundreds of homes and buildings were torn down, some of which collapsed in Abra, where President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who took office less than a month ago, traveled to Thursday to meet with victims and local officials. had planned.
Marcos Jr. told a news conference that he was in his office in the Malkanang Rashtrapati Bhavan complex on the banks of the river when the trees began to roar. “It was very strong,” he said of the ground shaking.
In a near-death chilling experience, Filipino photojournalist Harley Palangchao and companions were traveling downhill in two vans in Mountain Province when they suddenly heard thunder-like rumbles and saw massive cars rain as an avalanche of boulders The mountain is
“Back up, back up!” amidst the screams of his comrades in his van. The 44-year-old father of three raised his camera in the front seat and snapped in fear of the last pictures of his life. The van in front of him was crushed by a boulder, injuring one, but he and the other occupants of the other van quickly ran backwards and escaped safely.
“I was thinking there should be at least one record if something happened to us,” Palangchao told the AP. “It was a horrific experience.”
The Red Cross released a photo of a three-story building leaning toward a rubble-covered road in Abra. A video taken by a terrified witness shows parts of an old stone church tower peeling off and falling into a cloud of dust on top of a hill.
Patients, some in wheelchairs and medical personnel were evacuated from at least two hospitals in Manila, which is about 300 kilometers (200 mi) south of Lagangilang, but later returned after engineers found only a few minor cracks on the walls. asked for.
After further analysis the magnitude of the earthquake was reduced from the initial magnitude of 7.3. The institute said the quake was set off by movement in a local fault at a depth of 17 kilometers (10 mi), with damage and more tremors expected.
The Philippines is located along the “Ring of Fire”, an arc of faults around the Pacific Ocean, where most of the world’s earthquakes occur. It is also affected by about 20 typhoons and tropical storms each year, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.
In 1990, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck the northern Philippines, killing nearly 2,000 people.
AFP contributed to this report.