7.2 Earthquake Hits Philippines, Followed by Aftershocks; 186 Dead
Residents living in tents beside the rubbles of the Our Lady of Light Catholic church after a powerful earthquake struck Loon town, Bohol province, central Philippines Wednesday Oct. 16, 2013. The 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the central Philippines and killed more than a hundred people also dealt a serious blow to the region's historical and religious legacy by heavily damaging a dozen or more churches, some of them hundreds of years old. (AP Photo/ Philippine Air Force)
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A 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the Philippines on Oct. 15, followed quickly by a 5.4 aftershock and more than 2,100 other aftershocks. The death toll increased to 186 as of the morning of Oct 20.
The temblor struck about 56 kilometers (35 miles) deep below Carmen town on Bohol Island but did not cause a tsunami in the seas around the archipelago.
Of the 186 fatalities, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said 173 were from Bohol while 12 were from Cebu, reported the Sun-Star. One was from Siquijor.
At least 11 remain missing, all from Bohol, it added. More than 374 people were injured from the quake.
Also, 109,712 people are staying in 96 evacuation centers.
Because of continuing aftershocks, classes in almost all of Cebu Province, Philippines are canceled until Nov. 4.
Dozens of roads and bridges were damaged or completely destroyed, while historic churches dating from the Spanish colonial period suffered the most. Among them was the country’s oldest, the 16th-century Basilica of the Holy Child in Cebu, which lost its bell tower.
Nearly half of a 17th-century limestone church in Loboc town, southwest of Carmen, was reduced to rubble.
Extensive damage also hit densely populated Cebu city, across a narrow strait from Bohol, causing deaths when a building in the port and the roof of a market area collapsed.
Over 3.4 million people have been impacted by the earthquake so far.
Impact of Quake and Aftershocks on People
The quake set off two stampedes in nearby cities. When it struck, people gathered in a gym in Cebu rushed outside in a panic, crushing five people to death and injuring eight others, said Neil Sanchez, provincial disaster management officer.
“We ran out of the building, and outside, we hugged trees because the tremors were so strong,” said Vilma Yorong, a provincial government employee in Bohol.
“When the shaking stopped, I ran to the street and there I saw several injured people. Some were saying their church has collapsed,” she said.
As fear set in, Yorong and the others ran up a mountain, afraid a tsunami would follow the quake. “Minutes after the earthquake, people were pushing each other to go up the hill,” she said.
But the quake, which hit for about 30 seconds, was centered inland and did not cause a tsunami.
The 7.2 quake hit around 8:10 a.m. local time. Cebu City, the largest city near the quake at almost 800,000 residents, suffered “strong” shaking, according to the USGS.
“House was shaking!!!” said Charlotte Knowles who lives in the Palmas Verdes subdivision at Barangay Tabok, Mandaue City, Cebu.
“I was asleep and my mom was shouting at me to wake up,” Knowles told Epoch Times via Twitter. “The building was shaking and the both of us were terrified.”
Nhol Seno in Cebu tweeted that his 73-year-old grandmother said that the earthquake was probably the longest and strongest that she had ever felt.
The Philippine Red Cross warned people to stay alert.
“Each time you feel an aftershock, drop, cover and hold on,” it said. “Aftershocks frequently occur minutes, days, weeks and even months after.”
Small cities closer to the quake were hit with “very strong” and “severe” shaking, including San Isidro, Danao, San Pascual, and Jandayan.
At least a dozen aftershocks following the quake registered above 4.8 magnitude.
The US Geological Survey later downgraded the first earthquake to a 7.1, but the Philippine Institute Of Volcanology And Seismology (Phivolcs) has it as 7.2.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.