Hundreds of aftershocks have jolted a central Philippine province following a powerful earthquake, the country’s chief seismologist said on Wednesday, warning residents to stay away from damaged houses and buildings that could collapse.
One person died and 48 were injured in the magnitude-6.6 quake that struck on Tuesday, with the epicentre in Cataingan town in Masbate province, about 430 kilometres south of Manila.
Since then, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has recorded more than 280 aftershocks, with the strongest measuring at magnitude 5.2 on Wednesday morning, said Renato Solidum, the agency’s director.
“Strong aftershocks can cause further damage and cause damaged structures to collapse,” Solidum told Manila radio station DZMM.
“That is why we are advising that houses and buildings should be evacuated and inspected by engineers to determine whether these structures can still be used,” he added.
Cataingan town was the hardest hit by the tremor, which caused huge cracks on roads, houses, the public market, wharf, a public coliseum housing asymptomatic COVID-19 patients, a hospital and a church, officials said.
Glass windows were shattered, concrete walls crashed and roofs fell in some of the buildings, they added.
The Philippines is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where about 90 per cent of the world’s earthquakes take place.
The last major quake to hit the country was a 7.1-magnitude quake that killed more than 220 people in the central Philippines in October 2013.
In July 1990, more than 2,400 people were killed on the northern island of Luzon in a 7.8-magnitude earthquake, one of the strongest ever to hit the country.