Severe earthquake in Philippines kills one, damages quarantine center


MANILA (Reuters) – A 6.6 magnitude earthquake struck the Philippines on Tuesday, killing at least one person and damaging roads and buildings, including a hospital and sports complex being used as a new coronavirus quarantine center.

A partially damaged building is seen amid debris in Masbate province on August 18, 2020, after an earthquake struck the Philippines. Philippine Red Cros Masbate / Document via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALE. NO ARCHIVES.

It was the strongest earthquake in eight months in the Philippines, which sits on the “Ring of Fire,” a belt of seismically active volcanoes encircling the Pacific Ocean.

“My belongings at home fell and my neighbors’ walls cracked and some collapsed,” Rodrigo Gonhuran, 30, told Reuters from the central city of Cataingan, which has more than 50,000 residents and is located near the epicenter.

A man, a retired police colonel, was killed when his three-story house collapsed, while four people were slightly injured, provincial administrator Rino Revalo told DZMM radio.

Patients were moved out of a hospital in tents due to cracks in the building, Revalo said.

Engineers were checking a damaged sports complex to see if it was safe to accommodate those who remained in quarantine there after returning from the capital, Manila, he said.

People returning home to the provinces from the capital must spend time in quarantine.

The Philippines, with a population of 107 million, has the most coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia with more than 164,000 confirmed infections and 2,681 deaths.

The earthquake struck at sea at a depth of 30 km (18.64 miles), said the European Seismological Center for the Mediterranean.

The Philippine Seismological Agency said there was no risk of a tsunami but warned of aftershocks.

Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru and Neil Jerome Morales in Manila; Edited by Ed Davies, Robert Birsel

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