Four are confirmed dead, scores injured and structures damaged as Mindanao was once again rocked by a powerful quake, the fourth powerful tremor to hit the island since October this year.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the magnitude 6.9 quake struck at 2:11 p.m., the epicenter located about nine kilometers northwest of Matanao, Davao del Sur, the agency said.

The quake had a depth of three km and was tectonic in origin. It is the strongest recorded since the series of earthquakes to hit the region since October.

457 aftershocks were recorded as of 16 December 2019, of which, 130 were plotted and 41 were felt according to the Phivolcs.

The Phivolcs classified the quake as “destructive. Matanao and Magsaysay, Davao del Sur felt an Intensity 7 tremblor.

Recorded intensities in the following areas were:

Intensity 6 (very strong) –  Kidapawan City; General Santos City; Bansalan, Davao del Sur; Alabel and Malapatan, Sarangani; Koronadal City;

Intensity 5 (strong) in Tulunan and Matalam, Cotabato; Cotabato City; Davao City; and Glan, Sarangani;

Intensity 3 in Kalilangan, Talakag and Dangcagan, Bukidnon;

Intensity 2 in Impasugong, Bukidnon; Cagayan de Oro City; Dipolog City; and

Intensity 1 in Zamboanga del Sur.

Phivolcs chief Usec. Renato Solidum said the quake could have been caused by the Tambulan Fault, which has a “low” chance of generating another tremor with a maximum magnitude of 7.2.

No tsunami alert was raised wince the quake had hit land, Solidum said.

A six-year old girl was inside her family’s house when it collapsed killing her instantly.

In Padada, Davao del Sur, rescuers pulled the bodies of Elsa Ababon (57) and Vangie Artiaga (67) from the ruins of a collapsed 3-story grocery store. Local disaster officer Christopher Tan said six more are feared trapped under the collapsed building.

Three people were rescued from the rubble on Sunday night, Governor Douglas said. However, a heavy downpour suspended search and rescue operations until 8 a.m. Search and retrieval operations were changed to Search and rescue operations as signs of life were noticed in the rubble according to Eng’r. Luke Cadoyas, municipal disaster officer of Padada, Davao del Sur.

Nine (9) municipalities/cities in Regions XI and XII declared suspension of classes today. At present, ground assessment is still ongoing.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said twelve (12) municipalities/cities in Regions XI and XII experienced power outages during the onset of the earthquake, which were already restored immediately.

Region XI is on Red alert status as damage assessment is being done after the quake.

The Philippines is located within the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a large 40,000 km horseshoe shaped arc with a nearly continuous series of intense seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.  Approximately 90% of the world’s earthquakes and about 81% of the world’s largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire. (Rommel F. Lopez)