Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:51PM
A 7.6 earthquake has hit off the eastern Philippine coast, prompting a tsunami warning for the eastern part of the archipelago and Indonesia. The major quake occurred on Friday and had a depth of 33 kilometers (20 miles) and hit at 8:47 p.m. (1247 GMT), some 139 kilometers east of the city of Sulangan, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS downgraded its magnitude from an initial 7.9 to 7.6, while an extensive tsunami warning issued was lifted for Japan and Taiwan, but remained in effect for the Philippines, Indonesia and Belau. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center confirmed the earthquake generated tsunami. "An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines in the region near the epicenter within minutes to hours," the center said. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) later reported a 16cm (six-inch) tsunami had hit the country's eastern city of Surigao. PHIVOLCS chief Renato Solidum warned that the next waves could be higher, adding that people living along the east coast of the country had been ordered to evacuate. Meanwhile, Philippine authorities said there were no immediate reports of major damage or deaths from the quake that shook the eastern Philippines. Local officials in Samar Province, one of the areas closest to where the quake struck, reported a power cut in the area and cracks on concrete roads, and at the base of at least one bridge. MRS/JR