At least eight were reported dead in Pampanga after a 6.1 earthquake rocked Zambales Monday afternoon and was strongly felt in other parts of Luzon.
In an interview over dzMM Monday night, Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda said they confirmed six casualties in addition to two earlier reported deaths in Porac.
Pineda said three died after a grocery collapsed.
"There are still people who are trapped inside the collapsed building. We cannot identify yet how many are still inside," she added.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council ( NDRRMC) said in an initial report five persons were reported to have died but added this has to be verified.
The council said 30 were trapped inside the grocery.
Three other casualties were confirmed to Pineda by the Pampanga Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO).
"We only knew about it after PDRRMO informed us after they checked those who were brought to the hospital after the quake. If they weren't able to track the victims, we would not know (because) the (hospitals) were not reporting that their patients died," she explained.
As of 9 pm, Pineda said search and rescue operations are still ongoing.
"There are still people trapped inside collapsed establishments who were heard screaming, asking for rescue. There are still people alive waiting for rescuers," she said.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, in a statement, said the government ''is closely monitoring the situation.''
''Concerned agencies of the government are already responding and assisting those in troubled situations and shall continue to do so for as long as necessary,'' added Panelo.
The NDRRMC raised the blue alert status at 7 pm.
The alert status was raised "to closely monitor, consolidate and report all related incidents and to ensure prompt coordination with concerned agencies and offices."
The memorandum also noted that the military, police, firemen and Coast Guard are required to send detailed duty officer to render duty at the NDRRMC "to ensure continuous coordination and to assist in facilitating the submission of consolidated preparedness measures or action."
Clark Airport suspended local and international flights at 7:44 pm as officials want to check the soundness of the building after a part of the ceiling at the check-in lobby collapsed, injuring seven passengers. But flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport continue, its general manager Ed Monreal said.
In Metro Manila, many commuters were stranded after the Department of Transportation suspended service at the LRT-1, LRT-2 and MRT-3 lines to undertake safety checks. The Philippine National Railways also suspended service.
Police deployed buses and trucks to help commuters go home. Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada announced suspension of classes in all levels to allow authorities to examine if their structures sustained damage. Cristina Eloisa Baclig, Robina Asido/DMS