Philippines earthquake knocks over building, kills at least two, injures 100

There are estimated to be 3 million people within 100km of the quake's epicentre.
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There are estimated to be 3 million people within 100km of the quake's epicentre.

A strong, shallow earthquake has shaken the central Philippines, leaving at least two people dead and injuring more than 100 people, including several in a collapsed building where others were trapped.

The US Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 6.5 and struck at a depth of 6.5 kilometres in Leyte province. Filipino seismologists measured the depth at just 2km and said the quake, caused by movement of the Philippine Fault, was felt strongest in Leyte's Kananga town.

Shallow earthquakes generally cause more damage on the Earth's surface.

A building collapsed in Kananga, killing one person, injuring at least 10 others and trapping an unspecified number of people, Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla told DZMM radio.

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One was pulled out from the building alive but injured, said Petilla, who sought the help of experts to remove concrete slabs and debris without causing the rest of the building to crumple.

"I think they will work overnight for the people trapped inside," Petilla said of the rescuers, who were struggling to work amid a power outage.

Kananga Vice Mayor Elmer Codilla said the building had a grocery store and a beauty parlour on the ground floor and a guest house on the upper floor.

Thousands of residents, office workers and students fled from homes, buildings and schools, with some falling over as the ground shook.

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Mayor Richard Gomez of Ormoc city, about 30 kilometres from Kananga, told DZMM that a landslide hit a house and killed a young woman. More than 100 others were injured in the area, including many who were "traumatised and hysterical," he said.

The strong shaking caused cracks in some buildings and roads in the city and power was automatically shut off, Gomez said.

Ormoc's airport will be closed starting on Friday to allow an inspection, officials said.

Delia Vilbar, the treasurer of Ormoc, said she was attending a meeting on the second floor of City Hall when the earthquake struck.

"It was very strong, and the building was shaking," she said. "I sat down while others in the room went under the table."

When she went outside to the street, she saw people crying and embracing each other, she said.

Asked about the earthquake, President Rodrigo Duterte, who was visiting southern Bukidnon province, said he had not received any reports of major damage.

The quake struck in a region that was devastated in November 2013 by Typhoon Haiyan, which whipped up huge waves that left more than 7300 people dead or missing, levelled entire villages and displaced more than five million villagers. Tacloban city, which was hard hit by Haiyan, lost electrical power after Thursday's earthquake.

The Philippines sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where earthquakes and volcanoes are common. A magnitude 7.7 quake killed nearly 2000 people in the northern Philippines in 1990.

 - AP

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