Davao quake toll climbs to 7 as hopes fade for survivors

The death toll from a powerful quake that hit Mindanao last weekend has hit 7, authorities said Tuesday, as rescuers with sniffer dogs and heartbeat detectors sifted through rubble for the second day to find survivors.

Sunday's magnitude 6.9 quake struck south of President Rodrigo Duterte's hometown Davao City, cracking thousands of structures across the region which withstood a previous series of quakes.

In the trading town of Padada, Davao Del Sur, rescuers have pulled 3 bodies from a collapsed grocery store where 2 other fatalities are still trapped, said disaster officer Christopher Tan.

Rains and strong aftershocks temporarily suspended retrieval operations until 8 a.m. (Tuesday), he said.

"Based sa mga device na ginagamit, wala na kaming makitang heartbeat sa loob," he told.

(Based on the devices we use, we can no longer find any heartbeat inside.)

Around 50 buildings in Padada which were built in the 1970s and 80s can no longer be used due to the quake, he added.

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Meanwhile, neighboring Matanao town recorded 2 fatalities, the latest of which was an 81-year-old woman who succumbed to heart attack during the quakes, said Mayor Vincent Fernandez.

The town's other fatality was a 6-year-old girl who was crushed by her collapsed family home, he said.

The quake displaced 8,000 families in Matanao, of whom 3,000 have either partially damaged or totally destroyed homes, said the mayor.

Some 13,000 relief packs that will be distributed to the quake survivors on Tuesday might only get them through a week, said Fernandez as he appealed for donations of food, tents, and water.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council is verifying reports of 7 fatalities and 49 injured, its spokesperson Mark Timbal said.

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