6.8 earthquake rattles Philippines
The earthquake struck off the coast of the central Philippines on Monday, killing at least 12 people and causing panic in cities where buildings shook.
Mon, Feb 06, 2012 at 03:28 AM
QUAKE: Philippine seismologists and local residents said there was panic in Cebu, the country's second biggest city with at least 2.3 million people — but no immediate reports of casualties or major damage. (Photo: AFP)
A 6.8 earthquake struck off the coast of the central Philippines on Monday, killing at least 12 people and causing panic in cities where buildings shook, authorities said.
The quake hit 44 miles north of the city of Dumaguete on Negros Island at 11:49 a.m. at a depth of 46 kilometres, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) measured it at 6.9, at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers, centred off the heavily populated central island provinces of Negros and Cebu.
"One child was crushed to death by a collapsed wall in Negros," Office of Civil Defence chief Benito Ramos told AFP.
He said the violent shaking of buildings in Cebu city — roughly 50 kilometers from where the quake struck — led to broken windows and cracks on some walls, but no high rises were believed to have sustained major damage.
Philippine seismologists and local residents said there was panic in Cebu, the country's second biggest city with at least 2.3 million people — but no immediate reports of casualties or major damage.
"I was having lunch when the ground shook. Water spilled from glasses and plates clanked. Some of the diners rushed outside, some of us stayed underneath the tables," Pedro Baldomino, a student in Cebu, told AFP by telephone.
He said he saw many office workers in downtown Cebu leaving their buildings after a public announcement on radio warned people to brace for expected aftershocks.
Rumours spreading in mobile phone text messages of a huge tsunami swamping coastal areas in parts of Cebu, a popular destination for foreign scuba enthusiasts, added to the confusion, as officials appealed for calm.
"There are news going around of tsunami waves, so we are doing our best to keep everybody calm," Barbi Patino, a spokesman for the 17-story Parklane International Hotel told AFP.
"We are completely safe inside the hotel, but we could see people people on the streets now rushing away from the area."
Ramos said many tourists in hotels around Cebu rushed to the higher floors, but order was later restored.
He said there was no need to reinforce emergency crews in Negros and Cebu because it appeared the damage was not widespread.
"Windows were broken and one small mall in Negros had cracks on its walls, but it wasn't that destructive," Ramos said, adding that it was felt in varying intensities in both islands.
"We are expecting aftershocks, but we have already advised the public about these," he said.
He also said that, apart from the lone fatality, there were no other immediate reports of injuries or casualties.
The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no danger of a widespread destructive tsunami.
Phivolcs initially raised its tsunami warning to the second of a three-stop alert level for coastal areas in Negros, meaning the public is asked to stay away from beaches and "be watchful" for any signs of rising tides.
However level two does not warrant any evacuation, and the alert was later lifted.
Ramos said the chances of a tsunami or a tidal wave were very slim because the quake's epicentre was located on a narrow strait between two islands.
The Philippines sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" — a belt around the Pacific Ocean where friction between shifting tectonic plates causes frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity.
Copyright 2012 AFP Asian Edition