MANILA: A fresh earthquake hit the Philippines on Tuesday (Apr 23), even as rescuers scrambled to reach survivors from a strong quake a day earlier.
The latest temblor struck the southern Philippines at 1.37pm, with the epicentre at San Julian in eastern Samar. It was felt in Catbalogan City, Leyte and Tacloban City, which bore the brunt of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) put the fresh quake at 6.4 magnitude, which is stronger than the one that wrought significant damage Monday near the capital in the north.
Authorities are assessing possible damage from the latest quake, which struck at a depth of 70km, but warned that residents should expect aftershocks.
The quake sent terrified locals fleeing into the streets, with images on social media showing cracked roads, crumbling church walls and shattered glass.
"No one started crying, but of course some panicked because it was really strong," said Rey Estrobo, a supervisor at a hotel in Borongan town, near the epicentre.
"We're still getting hit with aftershocks, even as we speak," he told AFP.
16 KILLED, MORE THAN 100 INJURED IN MONDAY'S QUAKE
Monday's quake struck northwest of the capital Manila on the main island of Luzon, killing at least 16 people and injuring more than 100.
Rescue teams are scrambling to reach about two dozen people feared buried under a building near Manila.
However, initial reports indicated relatively minor destruction in Samar given the strength of Tuesday's quake, which could be down to differences in ground composition.
"The damage is more pronounced if the houses and buildings are built on a foundation of soft soil," seismologist Myla Advincula told AFP, referring to Pampanga's soft sediment. "It enhances the shaking effect."
More than 400 aftershocks have been registered since the initial quake, Philippine seismologists said.
Scores of rescuers in the town of Porac were using cranes and jackhammers to peel back the pancaked concrete structure of a four-storey market building where the Red Cross said 24 people were unaccounted for.
"Every minute, every second is critical in this rescue," Cris Palcis, a volunteer rescue dog handler, told AFP. "Time is short for the people under the rubble so we have to be quick."
Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda told journalists that rescuers could still hear at least one person trapped beneath the rubble, but the digging was proceeding delicately to avoid accidentally crushing the survivor.
Rogelio Pacelo was shopping with his wife and child when the market building collapsed around them, but they incredibly made it out almost without a scratch.
"I thought this only happens in movies. I thought that was the end of the world, it's our end," he told journalists. "I looked for a way out."
The quake also damaged several centuries-old churches which were crowded with worshippers in recent days as the majority-Catholic Philippines marked the Easter holiday.
Father Roland Moraleja, who is based in Porac, said the 18th century belfry of the Saint Catherine of Alexandria church collapsed in the quake.
"It was the only part left from the old church," he told AFP. "The historical value is now gone, but we are hopeful that it will rise again."
High-rise buildings in the capital swayed after the tremor struck Monday evening, leaving some with large cracks in their walls.
Thousands of travellers were stranded after aviation authorities shut down the secondary Clark Airport, which is located on the site of the former US military installation that lies about an hour's drive north of the capital.
It was still closed on Tuesday as officials assessed the heavy damage to the terminal building and some cracking on the air traffic control tower.
Monday's quake was centred on the town of Castillejos, about 100km northwest of Manila, local geologists said.
Seismologists had put the magnitude at 6.3 initially, but subsequently downgraded it to a 6.1.
The Philippines is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from quake-prone Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.