One dead in strong Philippine quake

2012-02-06 10:45

Manila - A 6.8 earthquake hit the central Philippines on Monday, killing at least one person and causing panic in cities where buildings shook, authorities said.

The quake hit 70km north of the city of Dumaguete on Negros Island at a depth of 46km, the US Geological Survey said.

The Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) measured it as 6.9 at a relatively shallow depth of 10km, centred off the heavily populated central island province of Negros and Cebu.

"One child was crushed to death by a collapsed wall in Negros," Office of Civil Defence chief Benito Ramos said.

He said the violent shaking of buildings in the cities of Cebu and San Carlos led to broken windows and cracks on the walls, but no high rises were believed to have sustained major damage.

Philippine seismologists and local residents said there was panic but no immediate reports of casualties or major damage.

No evacuation

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no danger of a widespread destructive tsunami.

But Phivolcs 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.

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.