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SURIGAO, Philippines, Feb 11, (Agencies): A powerful nighttime earthquake in the southern Philippines killed at least six people and injured more than 120, with officials combing through cracked buildings and nearby towns Saturday to check on the damage and other possible casualties.
The magnitude 6.7 quake roused residents from their sleep late Friday in Surigao del Norte province, forcing hundreds of people to flee their homes. The quake was centered about 16 kms (8 miles) northwest of the provincial capital of Surigao at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kms (6 miles), said Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Seismology and Volcanology. Nearly 100 aftershocks have been felt, officials said.
Evacuation centers accommodated wary residents overnight, but many returned home Saturday, Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said, adding that officials were continuing to assess the damage in Surigao and outlying towns. Provincial information officer Mary Jul Escalante was being interviewed by ABSCBN TV network when another aftershock struck. “Oh sir, there’s an aftershock,” she said. “I’m shaking, we have a phobia now.”
100 policemen dismissed for using drugs: The Philippine police have sacked nearly 100 policemen since the start of the year because they were found to be drug users, a top official said on Saturday, in a clean-up of the ranks after President Rodrigo Duterte halted police anti-drug operations. More than 7,700 people have been killed since Duterte unleashed his bloody war on drugs seven months ago, about 2,500 in police operations, while the rest are being investigated. Duterte had been unwavering in defending the police in the face of international outrage over the toll, but his faith was shaken by the killing of a South Korean businessmen late last year by rogue officers. Meanwhile, a nephew of one of Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte’s inner circle was caught selling drugs in a sting operation in the president’s home city, the anti-narcotics agency said on Friday.