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Multiple tremors damage buildings in Philippines

Hundreds flee coastal areas in Batangas province as rumours about false tsunami threat spread following quakes.

Manila

A series of earthquakes have hit a Philippine province, damaging houses and buildings and forcing hundreds to flee coastal areas, according to civil defence officials.

Power outages and landslides were reported on Saturday following the tremors, whose epicentres were recorded in the towns of Mabini and San Luis in the province of Batangas.

People rushed out of schools, shopping malls, hospitals and other buildings during the tremors, which were also felt in the Philippine capital of Manila, according to the national disaster relief agency.

"We have no reports of casualties so far," said Romina Marasigan, the agency spokeswoman.

The first earthquake had a magnitude of 5.6 and struck in Mabini at 07:07 GMT. A stronger earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 struck two minutes later in the same town.

A third tremor, measuring 4.1, occurred 20 minutes later in San Luis, followed by a 4.7 magnitude earthquake in Mabini, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.

The US Geological Survey recorded magnitudes of 5.5, 5.9, 5.0 and 4.7 for the four earthquakes.

Ernesto Abella, presidential spokesman, urged the public to "stay calm and yet remain vigilant and alert" as rumours spread on social media of a tsunami or a bigger earthquake.

Renato Solidum, head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, said the earthquakes were not strong enough to generate a tsunami threat to the coastal towns of Batangas.

"These swarms are natural occurrences and we do not expect a big quake in this area," he said.

The Philippines is located in the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where about 90 percent of the world's earthquakes occur.

The last major quake to hit the country was a magnitude 7.1 tremor 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 magnitude-7.8 quake, one of the strongest tremors to hit the country.


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