A magnitude 6.3 quake hit Mindanao at 7:37 p.m. Wednesday, with the epicenter traced in Tulunan, North Cotabato.
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The quake, which is tectonic in origin, was traced 22 kilometers southeast of Tulunan with a depth of 15 kilometers.
The tremor registered Intensity 7 in Kidapawan City, according to Phivolcs.
Instrumental intensities were recorded in Kidapawan City (Intensity 7); Tupi, South Cotabato (Intensity 5); Kiamba, Maitum, and General Santos City (Intensity 4); Cagayan de Oro City, Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental (Intensity 3); Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental (Intensity 2); and Dipolog City (Intensity 1).
The same Phivolcs bulletin said they are expecting aftershocks and damages to properties.
In General Santos, an aftershock at around 8 p.m. caused a fire at Gaisano Mall in General Santos City, according to Dr. Agripino Dacera Jr., the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) chief.
Citing information from mall personnel, Dacera said the fire originated at the furniture and plastic wares section.
Firefighters are still trying to put out the conflagration as of posting time, he added.
In Davao City, the tremblor sent thousands of people out of malls and high-rise buildings, according to the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.
The CDRRMO assured Dabawenyos that no tsunami alert has been raised following the earthquake.
In a radio interview, Mayor Sara Z. Duterte warned Dabawenyos for possible aftershocks. She also suspended classes in all levels for public and private schools.
“All school owners, teachers, and other school personnel are hereby instructed to subject school structures to safety inspection with a qualified engineer tomorrow (Thursday, October 17). If they find building defects that are dangerous and need repair, they should immediately condemn the area and not allow students to use the same,” the mayor said in statement.
Mayor Sara also ordered the Task Force Davao and Davao City Police Office to check for possible damages on buildings and other structures.
The Bureau of Fire Protection, she said, has been directed to prepare for possible fire incidents.
In Digos City, a number of people were rushed to the Davao del Sur Provincial Hospital for various injuries from fallen objects. Some patients were also reported to have suffered from hypertension, while others simply panicked and fainted.
In North Cotabato, Acting Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza called on local government units to suspend classes so that authorities can proper assessment on the extent of damages in their respective areas.
In the North Cotabato town of Mlang, classes have been suspended by Mayor Russel Abonado, according to Vice Mayor Joselito Piñol in a Facebook post.
Piñol said public school teachers have been ordered to report to help assess the damage in their classrooms.
In the Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte, Mayor Al David Uy suspend classes at all levels for both private and public schools.
Uy said their own CDRRMO and the City Engineerings Office have been directed to conduct ocular inspections on all school buildings. (PNA)