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Strong earthquake hits Philippines, killing at least 4

A car buried under the debris from a ruined old house in Vigan city, Ilocos Sur province north of Manila on Wednesday. (Photo by AFP)

At least four people were killed in a powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck the northern Philippine island of Luzon on Wednesday causing dozens of landslides and severely damaging buildings, officials said.

The earthquake was registered at 8:43 am local time in the mountainous province of Abra on the main island of Luzon, about 11 km (six miles) southeast of the town of Dolores and at a shallow depth of 10 km (6 miles).

Local police officials told AFP that in the town of Dolores, near the epicenter, panicked residents fled their homes and smashed windows in local market buildings.

Reports said that there were cracks in the police station building because the earthquake was very strong. Buildings even shook in Manila, more than 300 kilometers away.

“We are still experiencing aftershocks. We have received reports of damages to houses. But so far no casualties,” said Mayor Rovelyn Villamor in the town of Lagangilang in Abra province.

“We don’t have power supply because that’s automatically cut off due to danger,” Villamor told DZRH radio.

The Manila people said that the earthquake was so strong that they ran away from their homes in fear. Due to many aftershocks, the rail transport system will not operate until further notice.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) also announced that local people should be prepared for aftershocks. However, no tsunami warnings have been issued so far.

A total of 227 aftershocks have already been recorded in the region as a result of the strong earthquake.

In a radio interview, Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum Jr. said the Abra earthquake may produce aftershocks that could happen in the next three to four days, weeks, or even months.

“However, earthquakes of this size may generate unusual sea level disturbances that may be observed along coasts near earthquake epicenter of Abra province,” it said.

Local officials confirmed that the earthquake has caused a lot of damage. The published images showed the damaged buildings and the resulting debris in the streets.

Officials said the quake had caused at least 50 landslides. Some remote areas had not yet been reached, and it was possible that more deaths would be reported.

At least 44 people were injured, said Erwin Tulfo, the Philippine secretary of social welfare.

According to CNN, Philippine President Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr. has also ordered the immediate dispatch of rescue teams to the affected areas.

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