Quakes jolt Philippines, Taiwan | News | DW | 02.06.2013
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Quakes jolt Philippines, Taiwan

Earthquakes have jolted Taiwan, the southern Philippines and ocean depths off the Solomon Islands. At least 33 Filipinos were hurt as they slept. In Taiwan falling rocks killed a Taiwanese mountain climber.

A magnitude 5.7 earthquake rattled the southern Philippines on Sunday, injuring at least 33 residents as they slept. A stronger 6.3 magnitude quake was felt across Taiwan on Sunday, especially in central and southern regions. It killed one person and injured at least 18 others.

Hours earlier, a 5.5-magnitude quake rattled the Pacific seabed off the Solomon Islands but triggered no reports of damage or Tsunami alert.

Buildings sway

The epicenter of Taiwan's quake lay in Nantou County in the center of the island, according to Taiwan's Seismology Center.

Taiwan's Fire Agency said a mountain climber was killed by falling rocks on Mount Ali in central Taiwan. Subsequent reports said a rockslide had hit a car on a mountain road. Three other people were severely injured.

Near the regional town of Chushan, rescuers dug through tons of rubble while trying to find a male angler.

"I'm afraid, the odds of finding him alive [are] slim," a National Fire Agency official told the news agency AFP.

Taiwan television said shoppers in the central city of T'aichung ran screaming from a 12-storey department store, which shook violently for nearly a minute.

Householders elsewhere in central Taiwan spoke of cracked walls and fallen ceilings.

Television footage showed widespread landslides on mountain slopes. Six high-speed trains were halted briefly.

Nantou County was the scene of a major quake in 1999 that claimed 2,400 lives. Last March, an earthquake in the same vicinity killed one person and injured 86 others.

Falling debris

The quake that rattled the Philippines' southern region of North Cotabato damaged more than 140 homes and injured at least 33 people.

Governor Emmylou Tolentino-Mendoza said children were among those injured by falling debris while they slept.

Boulders rolled down a mountainside, she said, adding that it was a "big relief that no motorist was passing through our highway."

Officials said landslides had also damaged water supply pipes, a bridge approach and school buildings in the village of Kimadzil.

Green alert

The Solomon Islands area quake was centered 84 kilometers from the district of Chirovanga, said the US Geological Survey.

A green alert was issued, indicating a very low risk of casualties or economic loss.

Last February, the Solomon town of Lata was devastated by a tsunami that killed at least 10 people after a magnitude 8 earthquake. In 2007 a similar-sized quake also spawned a tsunami that killed at least 52 people and left thousands homeless.

Earthquakes are frequent around the so-called "Ring of Fire," a zone of tectonic activity marked by fringe waters of the Pacific Ocean.

ipj/slk (AP, AFP, dpa)