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Powerful earthquake hits northern Philippines

  • The Philippines was hit by an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.1 on Wednesday.
  • Four people were killed and 60 injured.
  • The earthquake was the strongest recorded in the Philippines in years.

A 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck the northern Philippines on Wednesday, the US Geological Survey said, shattering windows in buildings at the epicenter and shaking high-rises more than 300 kilometers away in the capital, Manila.

The shallow but powerful earthquake struck the mountainous and sparsely populated province of Abra on the main island of Luzon at 8:43 a.m. (00:43 GMT), the USGS said.

Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage than deeper ones.

Four people were killed and 60 injured, the interior minister said.

Two people died in Benguet province, one in Abra province and one more in another province, Interior Minister Benjamin Abalos told a televised press conference.

In the municipality of Dolores, which felt the full force of the earthquake, terrified people ran outside their homes and shops, and the windows of the local market were broken, Police Major Edwin Sergio told AFP.

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“The quake was very strong,” Sergio said, adding that there were small cracks in the police station building.

“Vegetables and fruits sold in the market were also messed up after the tables were overturned.”

A video posted on Facebook and confirmed by AFP showed cracks in the asphalt road and the ground in the nearby town of Bangued, although there was no visible damage to houses or shops.

But a number of injured people in Bangued were taken to the hospital, police chief Major Nazareno Emia told AFP.

He added:

Some of the buildings here show cracks. The power was cut off and so was the internet.

Congressman Ching Bernos, who represents the Lone District of Abra, said the earthquake “caused damage to many households and businesses,” but did not elaborate.

University student Mira Zapata was in her house in the city of San Juan when she felt “really strong shaking”.

“We started shouting and rushed outside,” she said as the aftershocks continued.

“Our house is ok, but houses down the hill were damaged.”

Ring of fire

The Philippines is regularly rocked by earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.

Wednesday’s earthquake was the strongest recorded in the Philippines in years.

In Vigan City, in the nearby province of Ilocos Sur, centuries-old structures built during the Spanish colonial period were damaged.

Verified video posted on Facebook showed the Bantay Bell Tower in the popular tourist destination partially crumbling.

“We cannot rule out the possibility of another strong earthquake,” said Renato Solidum, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

In October 2013, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Bohol Island in the central Philippines, killing over 200 people and triggering landslides.

Ancient churches in the birthplace of Catholicism in the Philippines were badly damaged. Nearly 400,000 were displaced and tens of thousands of houses were damaged.

The powerful earthquake changed the landscape of the island, and a “earthquake” pushed up a piece of soil up to three meters, creating a rock wall above the epicenter.

A car is buried under debris from a destroyed old house in Vigan city, Ilocos Sur province north of Manila on July 27, 2022, after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the northern Philippines.

In 1990, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in the northern Philippines created a landslide that stretched over a hundred kilometers.

Deaths were estimated to reach over 1,200 and caused extensive damage to buildings in Manila.

The nation’s Institute of Volcanology and Seismology regularly holds earthquake drills that simulate scenarios on the nation’s active fault lines.

During major earthquakes, the agency said people would find it difficult to stand on upper floors, trees could shake violently, heavy objects and furniture could topple and large church bells could ring.

Powerful earthquake hits northern Philippines

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