Quakes kill 2 in Taiwan, injure 33 in Philippines

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A strong earthquake jolted Taiwan on Sunday, killing two people and injuring at least 21 others and causing panicked shoppers to rush out of a shaking multi-story department store, officials said.

Another earthquake jolted the southern Philippines late Saturday, injuring at least 33 people and damaging more than 140 houses.

The tremor that hit Taiwan on Sunday afternoon was felt all over the island, but most severely in the central and southern regions. The magnitude-6.3 quake’s epicenter was near Jenai township in Nantou County in central Taiwan, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Taipei, the Central Weather Bureau said.

In Mountain Ali in the southern part of the island, a man was killed by a rockslide while driving a car on a mountain road, the Taiwan Fire Agency said in a statement. Another man was killed by a falling rock when he was working at a farm in Chushan, near the epicenter.

Rockslides at a scenic mountainous area near the epicenter injured several people, the agency said. In all, 21 people were injured by the earthquake, many by fallen objects.

Workers removed fallen rocks and repaired a damaged mountain road in Nantou, allowing more than 100 stranded tourists to pass.

Shoppers screamed and ran out of a 12-story department store that shook violently for nearly a minute, TV stations reported from the central city of Taichung. Households elsewhere in central Taiwan reported cracks on the walls or ceilings falling, the reports said.

The Central Weather Bureau said the tremor had a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles). The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude at 6.5.

Earthquakes frequently rattle Taiwan, but most are minor and cause little or no damage. Nantou is near the epicenter of a magnitude-7.6 earthquake that struck Taiwan in 1999 and killed more than 2,300 people.

In the southern Philippines, a magnitude-5.7 earthquake rattled North Cotabato province and nearby areas late Saturday as people slept, damaging more than 140 houses and several school buildings and setting off a landslide that partially blocked a road with boulders, officials said.

At least 33 people, including children, were injured by collapsed walls and falling debris in the hard-hit North Cotabato villages of Kimadzil and Kibugtongan, said Hermes Daquipa, a Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology official who joined a government team that surveyed the hilly villages.

The quake, which was set off by the movement of a nearby fault, damaged the approaches to two bridges and concrete pipes that cut off water supply to the two villages. Some of the damaged school buildings will not be able to be used for Monday’s resumption of classes after a summer break for safety reasons, North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Tolentino-Mendoza said.

Many residents remained jittery Sunday because of continuing aftershocks, said Mendoza, who added that she scrambled out of her home like other villagers when the ground started to shake and objects fell from shelves.

“It’s a big relief that no motorist was passing through our highway when boulders rolled down from the mountainside,” she said.

The Philippine archipelago is located in the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where earthquakes and volcanic activity are common. A magnitude-7.7 quake killed nearly 2,000 people on the northern island of Luzon in 1990.

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