PADADA (Philippines): Rescuers in the southern Philippines used heavy equipment and their bare hands yesterday in hopes of finding several people feared trapped beneath a building toppled by a powerful earthquake that claimed at least three lives.

Sunday’s tremor cracked schools, toppled homes and injured dozens but largely spared big cities on the island of Mindanao, which is still recovering from a string of deadly quakes in October.

Searchers have pulled survivors from the collapsed market building in the town of Padada, but were still looking for a person who had texted authorities saying six people were trapped under the rubble.

Soldiers walk among debris in Padada town, Davao del Sur province on the southern island of Mindanao yesterday, following a 6.8-magnitude earthquake on Sunday. Photo: AFP

“The person can no longer be reached,” fire official Fred Trajeras told reporters, adding that rescuers’ held out hope survivors could be found.

A young child was killed when a family home collapsed near the epicentre, and searchers pulled the bodies of two victims from the collapsed market building.

However applause erupted after Lesley Jane Gatos, 31, was pulled from the rubble on Sunday, shortly after the tremor.

Gatos used her phone to call for help and then began making noise to attract the attention of rescuers, who reached her after clearing a path in the debris. – AFP