7.2 magnitude earthquake strikes PhilippinesWorld
Seventy-three people have been confirmed killed in a powerful earthquake that struck the central Philippines, authorities say.
Bohol police chief Senior Superintendent Dennis Agustin put the number dead on the island of Bohol as at least 57 people, where the 7.1-magnitude quake's epicentre struck on Tuesday.
The earthquake was centred about 51 kilometres underground near the small town of Carmen, on Bohol, and struck at 8:12am, said Renato Solidum, the director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.
The damaged Church of San Pedro in the town Loboc, Bohol. Photo: AFP
AdvertisementThe tremors reverberated across adjacent islands of the central Philippines, toppling structures and sending panicked people into the streets.
“I was asleep and my bed started shaking very hard,” said Jessa Ariola, a 23-year-old resident of Tagbilaran, a city near the earthquake’s centre.
The earthquake hit near one of the Philippines key tourist hubs. Photo: AFP
The national disaster agency had previously reported 16 deaths on the neighbouring islands of Cebu and Siquijor.
The quake tore down buildings and triggered landslides across three popular tourist islands in the central Philippines centred on Cebu, the second most important city in the Philippines.
People gather next to damaged buildings in Cebu City. Photo: AFP
The quake had a magnitude of 7.1 and struck just 20 kilometres underground on the neighbouring island of Bohol, the United States Geological Survey reported.
"I was fast sleep when suddenly I woke up because my bed was shaking. I was so shocked, I could do nothing but hide under the bed," Janet Maribao, 33, a receptionist in Cebu, said.
A view of the damaged Basilica Minore of Sto Nino de Cebu. Photo: Reuters
Civil defence office spokesman Reynaldo Balido said five people were confirmed killed on Bohol and nearby Siquijor islands.
Four of those killed in Cebu were at a fish market that collapsed, while a child died in a stampede of people trying to leave a building.
Mr Balido and others involved in the relief and rescue operations warned the death toll would climb, with the full extent of the damage yet to be assessed.
The quake struck at 8.12am local time (11.12am AEDT) near Balilihan, a town of about 18,000 people on Bohol. The town lies across a strait about 60 kilometres from Cebu.
Cebu, with a population of 2.5 million people, is the political, economic, educational and cultural centre of the central Philippines.
It hosts the country's busiest port and largest airport outside of the capital Manila.
A university, a school and two shopping malls sustained major damage in the quake, authorities said.
Cebu's airport was not badly affected, and resumed operations shortly after the quake.
However, the Philippines' oldest church, Cebu's Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, was badly damaged, Mr Balido said.
It was first built in the 1500s by Spanish colonisers, although its current stone structure dates back to the 1700s.
A church on Bohol that was built in the early 1600s also collapsed in the quake, said Robert Michael Poole, a British tourist who was visiting the area.
"It's absolutely devastated . . . the entire front of the church has collapsed onto the street," he told AFP by telephone.
However, Mr Poole said, there was nobody in the church at the time of the quake.
Tuesday's quake was followed by at least four aftershocks measuring more than 5.0 in magnitude.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre did not issue a Pacific-wide tsunami threat.
AFP, The New York Times