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Philippines hunts for survivors after powerful quake kills at least three

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Rescue crew members look for trapped victims at collapsed building at Padada market, in Padada Philippines December 15, 2019
Rescue crew members look for trapped victims at collapsed building at Padada market, in Padada Philippines December 15, 2019   -   Copyright  VINCENT YAJ MAKIPUTIN/via REUTERS
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Rescue teams in the southern Philippines searched for signs of life on Monday in a collapsed shopping centre after a powerful earthquake that killed at least three people and wounded dozens more.

Disaster response officials said five people were believed to be trapped in the rubble of the Southern Trade Shopping Centre in Padada, a town on the island of Mindanao located about 20 km from the epicentre of Sunday's quake.

Rescuers were using chainsaws and thermal imaging equipment to look for survivors, but said there was little hope of finding anyone alive.

"It's very distressing. There's a very slim chance of finding survivors," regional disaster official Christopher Tan told CNN Philippines.

A six-year-old girl was killed when the wall of her house collapsed on her during the 6.8 magnitude quake, the fifth to hit the region since October. Rescuers also recovered the bodies of two women during a night disrupted by several aftershocks.

A further 31 people were injured, said Francis Irag, regional information officer.

Magnitude 6.8

The magnitude 6.8 quake was centred 61 km southwest of Davao on the island of Mindanao, at a depth of 28.2 km, the US Geological Survey said, revising down the magnitude from an earlier 6.9.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no tsunami threat from the quake, based on available data.

Philippine Emergency Alerts said on Twitter that more than `15 people were injured in Davao del Sur province.

The region was shaken by four powerful quakes in October and November, which together killed at least 20 people.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who is from Davao, was in the city when the quake struck.

"He is ok. He and his daughter Kitty were in their house when the quake struck," presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

The Philippines sits on the geologically active Pacific "Ring of Fire" and experiences frequent tremors.

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