Rescue team pulled the bodies of two victims from a collapsed market building in the town of Padada as they hunted for possible survivors trapped under the debris.

Damaged buildings are seen at Padada market, in Padada, Philippines December 15, 2019 in this still image obtained from social media video. VINCENT YAJ MAKIPUTIN/via REUTERS
Damaged buildings are seen at Padada market, in Padada, Philippines December 15, 2019 in this still image obtained from social media video. VINCENT YAJ MAKIPUTIN/via REUTERS (Reuters)

The death toll from the powerful quake that hit the southern Philippines climbed to five on Monday as rescuers used heavy equipment and their bare hands to hunt for survivors in a collapsed building.

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 pulled more bodies of victims from a collapsed market building in the town of Padada as they hunted for possible survivors trapped under the debris.

A child died after being hit by a collapsed wall in her house and a woman in her 70s died from a heart attack during the quake, officials said.

'Ring of Fire'

"We could not yet determine ... exactly how many are still trapped," fire official Fred Trajeras told reporters, referring to the market building.

"Our priority is (finding) signs of life, which we hope we can still rescue," he added.

The collapsed building was near the epicentre of the 6.8 magnitude quake and is in the same region that was hit by three tremors above 6.0 in a matter of weeks in October.

Those quakes killed some two dozen people and forced tens of thousands into shelters as well as heavily damaging homes and offices.

The Philippines is situated on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.

Searchers were fanning out across the quake hit areas of Mindanao on to fully assess the damage, but have already reported several schools and hospitals were cracked.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who is from Davao and was there during the quake, was not hurt.

"The first lady... said the car she was riding (in) was swaying," spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

Source: AFP