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World Building collapses after earthquake in Philippines, with at least 11 people dead, 24 still missing

Workers continue rescue operations at a collapsed building at Porac town, Pampanga province, northern Philippines, on April 22, 2019.

Bullit Marquez/The Associated Press

Rescuers found more bodies overnight in the rubble of a supermarket that crashed down in a powerful earthquake that damaged buildings and an airport in the northern Philippines, raising the death toll to 11, officials said Tuesday.

The bodies of four victims were pulled from Chuzon Supermarket and three other villagers died due to collapsed house walls, said Mayor Condralito dela Cruz of Porac town in Pampanga province, north of Manila.

An Associated Press photographer saw seven people, including at least one dead, being pulled out by rescuers from the pile of concrete, twisted metal and wood overnight. Red Cross volunteers, army troops, police and villagers used four cranes, crow bars and sniffer dogs to look for the missing, some of whom were still yelling for help Monday night.

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Authorities inserted a large orange tube into the rubble to blow in oxygen in the hope of helping people still pinned there to breathe. On Tuesday morning, rescuers pulled out a man alive, sparking cheers and applause.

“We’re all very happy, many clapped their hands in relief because we’re still finding survivors after several hours,” Porac councillor Maynard Lapid told The Associated Press by telephone from the scene, adding another victim was expected to be pulled out alive soon.

Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda said at least 10 people died in her province, including those who perished in hard-hit Porac town. The 6.1-magnitude quake damaged many houses, concrete roads, bridges, Roman Catholic churches and an international airport terminal at Clark Freeport, a former American airbase, in Pampanga. Another child died in nearby Zambales province, officials said.

At least 24 people remained missing in the rice-growing agricultural region, mostly in the rubble of the collapsed supermarket in Porac, while 81 others were injured, according to the government’s disaster-response agency.

The four-storey building crashed down when the 6.1 magnitude quake shook Pampanga as well as several other provinces and the capital, Manila, on the main northern island of Luzon. The quake was caused by movement in a local fault at a depth of 12 kilometres near the northwestern town of Castillejos in Zambales province, said Renato Solidum, who heads the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

“People told me that the ground moved like waves,” Mr. Lapid said.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s preliminary estimate is that more than 49 million people were exposed to some shaking from the earthquake, with more than 14 million people likely to feel moderate shaking or more.

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Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda told DZMM radio that she had received reports that the quake left at least eight people dead in her province, a rice-growing agricultural region, but could not provide details. Cellphone signals were erratic in the province.

The quake also damaged an airport terminal at Clark free port, a former U.S. Air Force base, and an old Roman Catholic church in Pampanga, and caused cracks in highways and bridges, Ms. Pineda and other officials said.

Clark airport was closed temporarily because of damaged check-in counters, ceilings and parts of the departure area, airport official Jaime Melo said, adding that seven people were slightly injured and more than 100 flights were cancelled.

In Manila, thousands of office workers dashed out of buildings in panic, some wearing hard hats, and residents ran out of houses. Dozens of aftershocks were recorded.

The Philippines, one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, has frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions because of its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a seismically active arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

A magnitude 7.7 quake killed nearly 2,000 people in the northern Philippines in 1990.

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