MANILA, Philippines (AP) — At least two people were killed and dozens injured after a powerful earthquake struck the northern Philippines on Wednesday, where the quake triggered small landslides and damaged buildings and churches and panicked crowds and hospital patients in the capital. On the outside.
The 7-magnitude quake was centered in the mountainous region of hard-hit Abra province, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology chief Renato Sol said.
“The ground shook like I was on a swing and suddenly the lights went out. We rushed out of the office and I heard screams and some of my comrades were in tears,” said Michael Brilandes, a security officer in the Abra town of Laganglong, near the epicenter.
“It was the most powerful earthquake I’ve ever felt and I thought the floor was going to open up,” Brillandes told The Associated Press by cellphone.
A villager died when cement slabs fell on his house in Abra, where at least 25 people were injured and mostly hospitalized, officials said.
A construction worker was struck by debris and died in the strawberry-growing mountain town of La Trinidad in Pengut province, where some roads were blocked by landslides and boulders. Officials said five people were injured when rocks and debris hit their SUV and a truck on a mountain pass in Mountain Province near Benguet.
New President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said some collapsed houses and buildings in Abra had cracked walls.Within a month, the incumbent planned to travel to meet victims and local officials.
The Red Cross released a picture of a small three-storey building leaning dangerously towards a debris-covered road in Abra. Video taken by a horrified witness showed parts of an old stone church tower peeling away, then falling in a cloud of dust on top of a hill.
Patients, some in wheelchairs, and medical staff were evacuated from at least two hospitals in Manila, about 300 kilometers (200 miles) south of Laganglong, but were told to return after engineers found only a few small cracks in the walls.
After further investigation, the magnitude of the earthquake was downgraded from the initial magnitude of 7.3. The agency said the quake was caused by movement on a local fault at a depth of 25 kilometers (15 miles), with damage and high aftershocks expected.
The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the earthquake at 7.0 and a depth of 10 kilometers (6 mi). Shallow earthquakes can cause more damage.
The Philippines lies along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of faults around the Pacific Ocean where most of the world’s earthquakes occur. It is hit by about 20 cyclones and tropical storms every year, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.
In 1990, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck the northern Philippines, killing nearly 2,000 people.
Associated Press reporters Joel Calupitan and Aaron Favila contributed to this report.
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