MANILA: A strong earthquake hit the northern Philippines on Wednesday, killing at least five people and injuring over 100 others, and causing severe damage to homes and infrastructure, officials said.
The 7-magnitude quake, which had sent strong tremors through the capital Manila, struck at 8:43 a.m. at a shallow depth of 10 kilometers, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.
The powerful earthquake was centered in the mountainous Abra province, and killed at least five people, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Police said more than 100 people were injured in the Cordillera region, which covers six provinces including Abra.
“Anything greater than seven is a major earthquake and we would expect significant effects of this event,” Renato Solidum, director at the seismology institute, said at a press briefing.
Solidum said the strong tremors had triggered landslides and caused damages to homes and buildings.
“Many of the churches and historical buildings were damaged,” he said.
The seismology institute downgraded the quake from the initial 7.3 magnitude after further analysis, and said there was no risk of a tsunami because the fault was inland.
More than 6,700 villages on Luzon island were affected by Wednesday’s tremors, with dozens of roads and at least 173 buildings damaged, Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said. The quake had also interrupted power and communication lines in Abra and Benguet provinces.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered the immediate dispatch of rescue and relief teams to the affected areas, and is expected to visit the region on Thursday.
“Despite the sobering news brought by the damage caused by the earthquake, we assure the immediate response to the needs of our countrymen in areas affected by this disaster,” Marcos Jr. said on Twitter.
The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, lies along the so-called Ring of Fire, an arc of faults around the Pacific Ocean where the majority of the world’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.
In 2019, an earthquake of 6.1 magnitude struck Zambales province on Luzon, killing 18 people.
One of the deadliest recorded in the Philippines occurred on July 16, 1990, when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed nearly 2,000 people in the country’s north.