Aftershocks hamper earthquake rescue efforts in southern Philippines

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MANILA, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) — Aftershocks are halting efforts to find survivors trapped under the rubbles of a three-story building collapsed after a powerful 6.9-magnitude earthquake rocked Davao del Sur province in the southern Philippines on Sunday afternoon.

Since Sunday’s earthquake that struck at 2:11 p.m. local time, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said it has recorded 556 aftershocks as of 4 p.m. on Monday, ranging from magnitude 1.4 to 5.2.

The unofficial death toll number has climbed to seven, according to local and disaster officials.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) has so far tallied two deaths and 31 injuries from Sunday’s earthquake. It said a total of 13 buildings were damaged.

Christopher Tan, Davao del Sur provincial disaster risk reduction and management officer, said efforts to rescue people believed trapped under the rubbles of a collapsed three-story building is underway.

“The aftershocks are hampering the operations. We continue to experience aftershocks. When there are aftershocks, our rescuers are forced to come out,” Tan said.

The region has been rocked by strong earthquakes in recent months. Sunday’s quake struck while local governments are in the process of rehabilitating the cities, towns and villages ravaged by previous quakes.

An active earthquake zone, the Philippines has frequent seismic activity due to its location along the Pacific “Ring of Fire.”

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