5.9 Magnitude Quake Sparks Stampede in Philippines

March 19, 2012

A 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck the southern Philippines on Friday, causing minor damage and a mall stampede that left at least 23 people injured, officials said.

Most of the injured were sent home after being treated for minor cuts. Two people who were crushed remained in hospital for observation, said George Tremedal, a hospital doctor.

The quake was centered 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) off Dinagat Island near southeastern Surigao del Norte province, said Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology chief Renato Solidum. No tsunami alert was raised.

“It was very strong. You could really feel it. You could see the vehicles moving. I could not control my body as it was moving,” said Albert Lancin, a city health official.

Surigao del Norte Gov. Sol Matugas said 20 people had been hurt in a stampede at a mall packed with shoppers in the provincial capital, Surigao City.

Glass doors shattered and panicked shoppers surged out of the mall, which had only opened Friday.

A teacher and two students suffered minor injuries when they were hit by a cable that broke in a public gymnasium, Matugas said.

The Office of Civil Defense said minor cracks were observed in the mall and gymnasium.

Matugas said town mayors had been asked to alert village disaster brigades for possible aftershocks.

The Philippines is located in the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where earthquakes and volcanic activity are common.

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