(UPDATED 4:40 p.m.) At least seven people got killed while several infrastructure and establishments were damaged when a 6.9-magnitude earthquake hit several of Visayas and Mindanao Monday noon, authorities said.

Four people got killed in Guihulngan, two in Tayasan, and one in Jimalalud, all of Negros Oriental province, Office of Civil Defense administrator Benito Ramos said.

The first fatality, Bernadeth Raidan, 9, had just gone out of her classroom to have lunch when a wall of the Brgy. Matuog Elementary School collapsed on her, PO2 Bernard Erojo, communications officer at the Tayasan Police Station, said in a phone interview.

“Wala nang mga estudyante sa school after that, kasi may mga aftershocks pa, hanggang ngayon meron pa,” Erojo said when contacted past 2 p.m.

The second fatality, identified as Grade 6 student Anafe Estrabella, got killed in Brgy. Mompong, Jimalalud, when the the wall of a chapel she was in collapsed, according to a report from the Central Visayas regional police.

A 69-year-old woman identified as Betty Yap Manzano died in Guihulngan, PO2 Bobby Fulmaran, of the Negros Oriental Provincial Police, said.

A three-storey building in La Libertad “totally collapsed” while five cottages at the Comendador Beach resort were wiped out due to a sudden rise of seawater, according to another police report.

Buildings, houses, bridges, and roads in Guihulngan City and Jimalalud suffered cracks, the report added.

“‘Yung mga daan nagkabitak-bitak, ‘yung hagdan ng aming police station nagkabitak-bitak, at may isang tulay na na-damage, pero passable pa naman,” Erojo said.

Senior Supt. Erson Digal, Central Visayas regional police operations chief, said people in Cebu City panicked after false information about a government-issued tsunami alert spread.

“Parang nag-Sinulog ‘yung mga tao dito, naglabasan ng mga building dahil dun sa information na ‘yung tubig ay umabot na sa city proper, we are advising them to keep calm because these are false information though there was really a tsunami alert,” Digal said.

In Negros Occidental, the quake destroyed the glass windows of the Unitop mall in San Carlos City, Ramos said.

Police in the province asked the military to conduct aerial surveillance after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology issued a “tsunami alert No. 2” was issued for Negros Island, Senior Supt. Allan Guisihan, Negros Occidental provincial police director, said.

“We received reports from the towns of Calatrava, Toboso, and San Carlos City that seawater was seen receeding, that’s a sign of a possible tsunami,” he said.

Several areas in Panay Island, including Iloilo province, mostly experienced Intensity 4, but no damage has so far been reported, according to Ramos.

The earthquake was also felt in Iloilo City, prompting policemen at the regional police camp to go out of their buildings, Supt. Ranulfo Demiar, Western Visayas regional police operations chief, said.

People inside the SM mall located about 1-kilometer from the camp reportedly panicked during the temblor.

“Nagbabaan sila lahat nung mall, kasi malakas talaga ‘yung pag-uga, dahil Intensity 5 dito sa Iloilo City,” Rosario Cabrera, director of the Office of Civil Defense-6, said.

Electricity was shut down by the city government shortly after the earthquake but was restored past 2 p.m. “It (power shutdown) was a precautionary measure to assure that no other disaster will happen,” Cabrera said.

Policemen were sent out to check if there were damages or casualties, Demiar said.

Intensity 4 was also felt in Cebu, as well as in Misamis Oriental and Lanao del Norte, where the flood-hit cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro are located, but there were no casualties or damages, Ramos said. (John Roson)

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