A powerful underwater earthquake shook the southern Philippines on Friday, killing several people, damaging a school, shopping malls and dozens of homes, and knocking out power across villages, officials said.
At least seven people died as a result of the quake, which also caused injuries and left two people missing, Mark Timbal, a spokesman for the Philippine Civil Defense, said in a preliminary report Saturday.
The earthquake, which hit at 4:14 p.m. local time, measured magnitude 6.7, according to the United States Geological Survey. The quake was centered about 16 miles south of Mindanao, a major island in the country’s south, at a depth of 48 miles undersea. All of the deaths reported were in that region.
Three of the deaths were in General Santos, a city about 40 miles north of the quake’s epicenter, Mr. Timbal said. City officials said in a news conference Saturday that 32 people were hospitalized and more than 500 others had been treated for minor injuries.
After the earthquake, Lorelie Geronimo Pacquiao, the mayor of General Santos, home to nearly 700,000 people, suspended classes at all schools until further notice, a statement from the city said on Saturday.
Two large shopping malls in General Santos, SM City and Robinsons Palace, closed temporarily to inspect their buildings. Photos of malls in the region showed some ceilings that had plunged to the ground.
General Santos International Airport sustained minor damage, according to the spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Eric Apolonio. Hairline cracks appeared on some of the airport’s columns, he said, adding that there were no injuries and that the airport remained operational.
“We hope you and your family are safe despite the effects of the earthquake that ripped through our city,” the city said on social media on Friday, warning residents to beware of aftershocks.
Earthquakes are frequent in the Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands that straddles the “Ring of Fire,” a region in the Pacific where tectonic plates grind together. The Philippine Sea plate has also produced active volcanoes and destructive seismic activity in Japan and Taiwan, the U.S.G.S. said.
In July, a 7-magnitude quake killed at least four people in the northern Philippines. Several deadly earthquakes hit the southern Philippines in 2019, the strongest of which was a 6.9-magnitude quake that killed at least two people.