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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Strong quake hits northern Philippines, killing at least four

A strong earthquake struck the northern Philippines. Dozens were injured and at least four people were killed.

By Jason Gutíerrez and Mike Ives

A strong earthquake hit the northern Philippines on Wednesday morning, killing at least four people, causing dozens of landslides and severely damaging buildings, officials said.

The 7.0 magnitude quake struck at 8:43 a.m. at a depth of 10 kilometers, or 6 miles, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

“This is a major quake,” Renato U. Solidum, the head of the institute, said in an interview with a local radio station. He said it had been felt with “relatively moderate intensity” hundreds of miles south in Manila, the capital.

The quake’s epicenter was in Luzon, the Philippines’ most populous island, but in its northwest, where comparatively few people live. By midafternoon, four people were known to have been killed, Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said.

Officials said the quake had caused at least 50 landslides. Some remote areas had not yet been reached and it was possible that more deaths would be reported.

At least 44 people were injured, said Erwin Tulfo, the secretary of social welfare.

Officials released photos from Abra province, where the quake’s epicenter was, that showed damage to buildings, some of which had partly collapsed. Other photos from Baguio city, in nearby Benguet province, showed patients sheltering on the grounds of a hospital after being evacuated. One sat in a wheelchair, attended by medical personnel.

Some major highways were blocked.The disaster risk agency said no damage had been reported at hydropower dams in the affected area. In Manila, light rail train service was briefly suspended at some stations.

The Philippines’ new president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., said at a news conference that he would not visit the quake-hit areas immediately because he did not want to interfere with the work of local officials. He said he might go Thursday.

Marcos said the chandeliers in his Manila office swung when the quake struck. “It was very strong,” he said. “Stronger than usual.”

The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, lies along the Ring of Fire, a region where tectonic plates sometimes grind together to cause deadly earthquakes.

Two earthquakes in the central Philippines each killed nearly 100 people in 2012 and 2013. In 2019, an earthquake west of Manila left at least 11 people dead.

The seismology institute initially reported that the quake Wednesday had a magnitude of 7.3, but later downgraded its estimate. There was no risk of a tsunami from the quake because the fault was inland, the institute said.

The tectonic plate under the Philippine Sea has produced seven earthquakes of at least 8.0 magnitude and 250 others larger than 7.0, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

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