Tsunami alert after 7.6 quake hits Philippine coast
A 7.6 earthquake hit off the Philippine coast today, triggering a tsunami warning for the eastern part of the archipelago and Indonesia, US seismologists said.
The US Geological Survey said the quake had a depth of 34 kilometres (21 miles) and hit at 8:47 pm (1247 GMT), 139 kilometres east of the city of Sulangan on Samar island.
The USGS had initially reported the quake as having a magnitude of 7.9, but revised it to 7.6.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin any wave generated by the quake would be expected to hit Indonesia first, at 1335 GMT.
It would then be due to hit the Philippines at 1338 GMT. The times passed without immediate reports of damage.
"An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines in the region near the epicentre within minutes to hours," the center said.
A seismologist with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), Jane Punongbayan, said any potential wave may not hit until after 1430 GMT, later than the center's alert.
Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum, said people living along the east coast of the country had been ordered to evacuate.
"It is a shallow quake and could trigger a tsunami so we have raised an alert," Solidum said on local radio.
"Waves could reach one metre high and as a precaution those living in coastal areas facing the sea should now evacuate and go to higher areas."
In Indonesia, officials said there had not been any sign of a tsunami.
"So far we have not received any reports of a tsunami hitting anywhere in Indonesia," Suharjono, technical chief of Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, who goes by one name, told AFP.
"We have heard about the Pacific warning and have alerted our disaster management agency in the Papua and Maluku provinces to be prepared for a possible evacuation in case there is a tsunami."
Tsunami warnings had also initially been raised for Japan, Taiwan and several Pacific islands, but they were quickly lifted.
Philippine authorities said the quake shook the eastern Philippines, but there were no immediate reports of damage or deaths.
"So far there are no casualties reported, but it was felt from the north to the south of the Philippines, on the eastern seaboard," civil defence chief Benito Ramos told AFP.
Paula Daza, the governor of northern Samar province, one of the areas closest to where the quake struck, said power had been cut in the area and there were reports of damage to infrastructure.
"Some cracks appeared on concrete roads, and at the base of at least one bridge," he said.
Sol Matugas, the governor of another eastern region, Surigao del Norte, said on DZMM radio that the quake had severely shaken homes.
"We were rather frightened. For the first time, we saw objects falling out of our cabinets," he said.
Geoscience Australia duty seismologist Clive Collins said the quake was unlikely to cause a major tsunami but there was the possibility of a local one being generated.
"Something of that magnitude, it's relatively shallow... it's a possibility of a small tsunami, but at the moment we can't say," he said.