December 7, 2013
Strong quake kills at least 67 in central Philippines
A powerful earthquake measuring 7.2 struck islands popular with tourists in the Philippines today, killing at least 67 people, some as they prayed in a centuries-old church, and causing widespread damage to infrastructure, officials said.
Low-rise buildings collapsed on at least two islands and historic churches cracked and crumbled during the quake, which sparked panic, cut power and transport links and forced hospitals to evacuate patients.
At least 57 people died in collapsed structures and landslides on the island of Bohol, about 630 kms (390 miles) south of the capital, Rey Balido, spokesman for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), told a briefing at army headquarters
He said nine others died in Cebu and another on Siquijor island. Nearly 170 were wounded on Cebu and Bohol islands.
President Benigno Aquino said he would visit earthquake-damaged areas tomorrow. "Many of the structures there are old," he told reporters after attending the briefing.
The death toll looks bound to rise. Dennis Agustin, Bohol provincial police director, said in a radio interview as many as 77 people had died in 11 towns on the island, much of which was left without power and communications.
Four bridges collapsed and roads cracked, with many declared impassable due to landslides, prompting the authorities to declare a state of calamity in the province, along with Cebu.
Renato Solidum, head of the state seismology agency, said the magnitude 7.2 tremor had struck near Carmen town on Bohol island at 8:12 a.m. (0012 GMT).
"A magnitude 7 earthquake has energy equivalent to around 32 Hiroshima atomic bombs. Compared to the 2010 Haiti earthquake -- that had a magnitude of 7.0, this one had a magnitude of 7.2, slightly stronger," he told a news conference.
The volcanology agency said it was measured at a depth of about 56 km (35 miles)