At least 20 people killed after 7.2 earthquake hits central Philippines



Maps of The Philippines

A
7.2-magnitude earthquake collapsed buildings and roofs and cracked roads
Tuesday morning in the central Philippines, killing at least 20 people.

The quake
was felt across the central region, and people rushed out of homes and
buildings, including hospitals, as aftershocks continued. Offices and schools
were closed for a national holiday, which may have saved lives.

The temblor,
which struck at
8:12 a.m., was centered about 35 miles below Carmen town on
Bohol Island and did not cause a tsunami.

At least
four were killed on Bohol, said the island’s Gov. Edgardo Chatto.

Five others
were killed when a fishing port collapsed in Cebu city, across the strait from
Bohol, officials said. Two more people died and 19 were injured when the roof
of a market in Mandaue in Cebu province collapsed. A woman died after being hit
on the head when the quake toppled a building.

Photos from
Cebu broadcast on TV stations showed a fallen concrete 2-story building, and
reports said an 8-month-old baby and a second person were pulled out alive.

“It’s
fortunate that many offices and schools are closed due to the holiday,”
said Jade Ponce, the Cebu mayor’s assistant.

He said that
patients were evacuated to basketball courts and other open spaces “but
we’ll move them back as soon as the buildings are declared safe.”

Cebu
province, about 350 miles south of Manila, has a population of more than 2.6
million people. Nearby Bohol has 1.2 million people and is popular among
foreigners because of its beach and island resorts.

Vilma Yorong,
a Bohol provincial government employee, said she was in a village hall in
Maribojoc town when “the lights suddenly went out and we felt the
earthquake.”

“We ran
out of the building, and outside, we hugged trees because the tremors were so
strong,” she told The Associated Press by phone. “When the shaking
stopped, I ran to the street and there I saw several injured people. Some were
saying their church has collapsed.”

She said
that she and the others ran up a mountain fearing a tsunami would follow the quake.
“Minutes after the earthquake, people were pushing each other to go up the
hill,” she said.

Chatto, the
Bohol governor, said that a church was reported damaged in the provincial
capital of Tagbilaran and a part of the city hall collapsed, injuring one
person.

A
17th-century stone church in Loboc town, southwest of Carmen, crumbled to
pieces, with nearly half of it reduced to rubble. Other old churches dating
from the Spanish colonial period, which are common in the central region, also
reported damage, including the bell tower of the centuries-old Santo Nino
Church in Cebu, which collapsed.

Tuesday is a
national holiday for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, and that may have
reduced casualties. The earthquake also was deep below the surface, unlike the
6.9-magnitude temblor last year in waters near Negros Island, also in the
central Philippines, that killed nearly 100 people.

Regional
military commander Lt. Gen. Roy Deveraturda said that he recalled soldiers from
the holiday furlough to respond to the quake. He said it damaged the pier in
Tagbilaran and caused some cracks at Cebu’s international airport but that navy
ships and air force planes could use alternative ports to help out.

Passenger
flights were put on hold until officials check runways and buildings for
damage.

Earthquakes
are common in the Philippines, which lies along the Pacific “Ring of
Fire.”

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