7.2-magnitude quake kills 85 in Philippines


At least 85 people have been killed in the central Philippines after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake ripped through the area, destroying buildings and roads and triggering terrified stampedes.
At least 15 people died in Cebu, according to the National Disaster Agency, with some killed when they became involved in a crush as people rushed out of homes and buildings, including hospitals, as aftershocks continued.
Most of the deaths were on the neighbouring island of Bohol, which is close to the epicentre of the quake, with 69 confirmed fatalities so far.
Another person died in nearby Siquijor.
Authorities said the death toll could yet rise, but lives may have been saved by the fact offices and schools were closed for a national holiday.
Rescue teams are still assessing damage to the worst affected area Bohol as roads have been made impassable and the power was cut.
There have been no reports so far of any foreign tourists being killed in the quake.
The earthquake, which did not cause a tsunami, struck at 8:12am local time and was centred about 35 miles below Carmen town on Bohol Island.
Five people were killed when a fishing port collapsed in Cebu city, across the strait from Bohol, officials said.
Two more people died and 19 were injured when the roof of a market in Mandaue in Cebu province collapsed. A woman died after being hit on the head when the quake toppled a building.
Photos from Cebu broadcast on TV stations showed a fallen concrete two-storey building, and reports said an eight-month-old baby and a second person were pulled out alive.
“It’s fortunate that many offices and schools are closed due to the holiday,” said Jade Ponce, the Cebu mayor’s assistant.
He said that patients were evacuated to basketball courts and other open spaces “but we’ll move them back as soon as the buildings are declared safe”.
There are said to have been at least four aftershocks measuring five on the Richter scale.
Cebu province, about 350 miles south of Manila, has a population of more than 2.6 million people.
A university, a school and two shopping malls, public markets and many small buildings sustained damage in the quake.
Several of those who died in Cebu were crushed to death in a stampede at a sports complex, where people had gathered to collect regular government cash handouts, according to the provincial disaster council chief, Neil Sanchez.
He said two other people were killed when part of a school collapsed on a car they were parked in, while four others died at a fish market that crumbled.
Nearby Bohol has 1.2 million people and is popular among foreigners because of its beach and island resorts.
Vilma Yorong, a Bohol provincial government employee, said she was in a village hall in Maribojoc town when ‘the lights suddenly went out and we felt the earthquake’.
She said, “We ran out of the building, and outside, we hugged trees because the tremors were so strong. When the shaking stopped, I ran to the street and there I saw several injured people. Some were saying their church has collapsed.”
She said that she and the others ran up a mountain fearing a tsunami would follow the quake.
“Minutes after the earthquake, people were pushing each other to go up the hill,” she said.
Elmo Alinsunorin, a guard for a government tax office in Cebu, added: ‘I was thrown to the ground by the strength of the quake. Broken glass rained on me, I thought I was going to die.’
The Philippines’ oldest church, Cebu’s Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, was badly damaged, according to a civil defence spokesman.
It was first built in the 1500s by Spanish colonisers, although its current stone structure dates back to the 1700s.
A church on Bohol that was first built in the early 1600s also collapsed, according to Robert Michael Poole, a British tourist who was visiting the area.