PHILIPPINES: A strong 7.1 magnitude earthquake shook the northern Philippines island on early Wednesday, the US Geological Survey has reported.
The tremors resulted in minor damage and caused people to flee from buildings; however, no casualties were reported.
The USGS also reported that the epicenter was about 13 kilometres southeast of the small town of Dolores, with a depth of 10 kilometres.
The shallow but powerful earthquake struck the mountainous and slightly populated province of Abra on the main island of Luzon at 8.43 am (0043 GMT), the USGS said, after the initial evaluation of the earthquake at 6.8 magnitude.
The tremor was quite strong, felt even 400 kilometres away in the capital city of Manila, where the metro services were halted during peak rush hours, the transport ministry has said.
According to media reports, the senate building in Manila was also evacuated urgently. Renato Solidum, the director of the state seismology agency, told DZMM radio that the quake could have caused damage in Abra where Dolores is locted, but did not record any damages in Manila.
“The quake was very strong,” Sergio said. He further added that there were minor cracks in the police station building.
“Vegetables and fruits sold in the market were also disarranged after tables were toppled.”
According to reports, Wednesday’s quake was the strongest ever recorded in the Philippines in years. The previous high was recorded back in October 2013, when a magnitude of 7.1 hit Bohol island in the central Philippines, killing over 200 people and offsetting landslides in the area.
Following the initial tremors, several regions felt the aftermath, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said on Wednesday. Several people have been reported as injured in Bangued and rushed to the hospital for treatment, police chief Major Nazareno Emia said.
The Philippines happens to be one of the most earthquake-prone areas in the world, as it suffers from about 20 typhoons and tropical storms every year.
Moreover, the island is located on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an area of intense seismic activity that stretches from Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific Ocean.