Emergency crews assess damage outside a building that collapsed during an earthquake, in La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines, on Wednesday. (Public Information Service – Bureau of Fire Protection, release via Reuters)
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VIGAN, Philippines – A powerful 7.1 earthquake struck the northern Philippine island of Luzon on Wednesday, killing at least five people, damaging buildings and causing powerful earthquakes in the capital, Manila.
Officials said at least 64 people were injured and 173 buildings were damaged, many of them in Abra province, just 6 miles from the epicenter. More than 200 aftershocks were recorded in the area, according to the state seismological agency, and 58 landslides were also reported in the aftermath of the quake.
“Despite the sad reports of the damage caused by the earthquake, we are ensuring a swift response to those in need and those affected by this disaster,” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Facebook.
The earthquake hit an area close to the political stronghold of the Marcos family.
Officials said a hospital in Abra governorate was evacuated after the building partially collapsed, but no injuries were reported there.
Deputy Governor of Abra, Joy Byrnos, posted pictures of the damaged Abra Hospital on her Facebook account, which showed a hole in its facade.
Other photos showed hospital beds, including a bed with a patient, being wheeled across a road and evacuating hospital staff.
Two people were killed in Benguet County, one in Abra County, one in Kalinga, and one in Cagayan Valley.
Abra, home to approximately 250,000 people, is a landlocked province in the northern Philippines. Deep valleys and steep hills are surrounded by rugged mountains.
The Philippines is prone to natural disasters and is located in the seismically active Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a group of volcanoes and fault lines that curve around the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Earthquakes are frequent and there are an average of 20 hurricanes each year, some of which cause deadly landslides.
Eric Singson, a congressman for Ilocos Sur County, also in the north, told DZMM radio that the quake was felt strongly there and lasted 30 seconds or more.
“I thought my house was going to fall,” Singson said. “Right now, we’re trying to reach people… at the moment there are aftershocks so we’re out of our house.”
Emergency crews conduct rescue operations outside a building that collapsed during the earthquake, in La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines, on Wednesday. (Photo: Public Information Service – Bureau of Fire Protection, posted via Reuters)
The earthquake destroyed heritage buildings in the northern city of Vigan, known for its old Spanish colonial architecture, on the west coast of Luzon.
Tourist Edison Adokul told the radio station he was taking pictures of the Pantai Church Bell Tower in Vigan when the earthquake struck, shaking the tower for up to three minutes.
The normally busy streets of Vigan were out on Wednesday evening and shops, hotels and businesses remained closed. Many streets were cleared of debris.
Senator Amy Marcus said many churches were damaged.
“Antique bricks and coral stones fell from the Pantai Bell Tower,” she said.
The earthquake was also felt in Manila as many buildings were evacuated, some people were forced to flee from the 30th floor of a building, and the city’s subway networks came to a standstill at rush hour.
Contributing: Enrico Dela Cruz, Karen Lima
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